Kauffman siblings star in the pool as boys and girls take state crowns

GREENVILLE — High school swimming has evolved in South Carolina into an adjunct, season-opening program for the state’s serious year-round swimmers.
So it was especially satisfying for the swimmers of St. Joseph’s Catholic School to see records fall when they swept the S.C. Independent Schools Association championships at the Augusta Aquatic Center on Oct. 11 in Augusta, Ga.
It was the third state crown in four years for the boys’ team, and the first ever for the girls’. The girls’ score wasn’t even close, though, as the St. Joseph’s swimmers dashed off 194.5 points to runner-up Hammond’s 169.
Emily Schrank is not a year-round swimmer and won no gold medals at the state meet, but she reveled in the success of the team just the same.
“It was really exciting and a great way to go out,” said the senior swimmer. “It is the only championship I’ve ever been associated with.” At 17, she has been a member of the team for five years.
Jeremy Mehl, 15, gold medallist on two record-setting relay teams, agreed with Schrank that the state title amplifies the individual sense of accomplishment in a swim meet.
“It’s very satisfying when you win, since we’re all a team and we work hard together to do our best,” Mehl said.
The boys beat out Porter-Gaud School by only 13 points to win their title in dramatic fashion, even though they broke a total of six SCISA records in the process. Senior Graham Kauffman swam to two new records, the 50-yard freestyle in 22.05 seconds and the 200 free in 1:48.37, and thought the times were excellent for this early in the season.
His younger brother Jared set new records in the 200 individual medley at 1:59.09 and in the 100 breaststroke at 0:59.30. Both brothers teamed up with Jeremy and Justin Mehl, and Christopher Schrank to set state records in two relay races.
Graham Kauffman is already being recruited for college teams, and that figures into sophomore Jared’s plans.
“My short-term plans are to swim on scholarship in college, and long-term, maybe a shot at the Olympics,” Jared said.
Both Kauffman brothers and the other full-time swimmers take a week’s vacation in August, but otherwise they are in the pool working out every weekday, with meets scheduled on weekends. They swim for local swim clubs and YMCAs.
Kate Kelly was a dual gold-medallist for the girls. Aya Nance and Kelly McNulty were the other first place winners.