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Off the Deep End

January 25, 2006

Moultrie -- The state championships for swimming are just a few weeks away, with the Colquitt County team expected to again rule the diving portion of the event.

But even though they have the talent, the entire Lady Packers team won't be able to compete.

The Colquitt County girls have six divers who qualified for the state tournament.

Head coach Tina Piemonte says, "It's both good and bad, unfortunately. We have some tremendous talent down here. They work hard, and dive all year round. Unfortunately the rule for the state is only four divers can dive."

GHSA Swimming regulations currently state: "A school may not have more than four entries in an event in which the contestants compete as individuals," even though five of the Lady Packers six divers are nationally ranked.

Piemonte says, "It doesn't matter how you slice it, it's not going to come up very good."

With only four of six divers allowed to compete at the state level, the Lady Packers are put in a difficult situation.

Sophomore Stacey Howard says, "That's not fair. We all qualified for the state score. It's not fair that four can go, but the other two can't."

Anna Aguero finished third in the state tournament last year, and adds, "If we're all good enough to qualify, and everyone on this team has qualified, then we should all be able to dive."

Choosing who gets to compete will be tough on the coaches.

Freshman Ali Lepach says, "I'm really worried but I want everybody to get in, so I'll be happy either way."

"They didn't squeak over the line in qualifying, they really blew out the scores, so it's a little hard to pick," says coach Piemonte.

And it won't get any easier for Colquitt County in the future.

"We'll be in worse shape next year, we'll have eight girls. Most of them will be nationally ranked, and only four will be able to dive at the state meets," says Piemonte with a smile.

The Lady Packers divers captured two of the top three spots at the state championships last year.

The state AAAAA diving championship will be held February 9th at the Westminster school in Atlanta.

Qualifying for Nationals will begin in April.

There is no limit on how many divers can compete Nationals.

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