Alexandra Martelle slept for only two-and-a-half hours the night before the 4A West Region swim meet. She felt sick.A combination of nerves, energy drinks and soda kept the South Mecklenburg High swimmer awake during the Feb. 2 meet at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center. The junior won the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke events, breaking a 4A West Regional record for the latter. Five days later, Martelle won 4A state championships in both events at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, surprising herself and coach Leslie Berens with All-American automatic qualifying times.“I had no idea that she would get those kind of times and race like she did,” said Berens. Martelle won the 200 IM with a time of 2 minutes and 3.32 seconds, beating the second place swimmer by more than a second. She won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.21, edging out the second place swimmer by a tenth of a second. She is the first South Meck girls’ swimmer to win an individual title in at least 20 years – possibly in school history – according to Berens. She’s the first girls’ All-American at the school since Michaela Nilsson in 2008. Martelle said the times were faster than what she has swam in a meet earlier this season for SwimMAC Carolina, which she joined about a year ago. She didn’t expect to go that fast because she hadn’t rested, tapered her swims or shaved like she would for a big club meet. She went into the meet relaxed, just hoping to perform well for her team.“Sometimes when I think too hard about the race, I kind of spaz out and I don’t really do what I want to do,” said Martelle, 17. “So I just really try to have run and take everything in and usually the excitement from the crowd is what makes me excited. “I was really surprised when I went those times.” Martelle transferred to South Meck this year after swimming for two years at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy in Mooresboro, N.C. At Thomas Jefferson, she won 1A/2A state titles in the 200 IM as a freshman (by six seconds) and sophomore (by more than four seconds). She won the 100 breaststroke as a freshman and finished second in the state by .02 seconds as a sophomore. Berens didn’t know much about Martelle before she came to South Meck, but she knew about the family; Martelle’s father and his eight siblings swam at South Meck. “They have such a strong history of swimming here at South Meck,” said Berens. “It’s definitely fun to put her on the Sabre swim team and see what she can do.” At the beginning of the season, Berens told Martelle that her aunt, Meredith, held the record for the 200 IM. “I wanted to get it. I kind of want my name down there,” Martelle said. “But I wasn’t really thinking about it. I kind of just swam.” Martelle broke the record (2:08.13 in 2003) by nearly five seconds. She also broke the school breaststroke record by four seconds. Berens said Martelle’s breaststroke reminds her of Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni. “She just has a feel for the water,” Berens said. “She is a beautiful swimmer. Some kids you just look at in the water and how they grab and touch, it’s just this feel and it’s effortless to watch. But you know deep down inside it’s painful swimming that fast and getting those times.” Martelle also pushes her teammates in relays. The South Meck 200-medley relay struggled in some meets this season, losing to Ardrey Kell, Providence High, Charlotte Catholic and East Mecklenburg. Coming into the regional, Berens told the team she thought they could win. The relay, swam by Martelle, Anne Settlemyre, Nadine Haenlein and Megan Marshall, finished second in the region and ninth in the state. Martelle anchored South Meck 400-freestyle relay (Settlemyre, Amelia Loydpierson and Haenlein) that finished 13th in the state. South Meck finished 10th as a team.“When the girls’ know they’re in a relay and they’re sharing the experience with a swimmer of her level and her ability ... they just also want to bring to the table their best effort, put it all together and see what we can do,” Berens said. Martelle, who was a part of SwimMAC’s first-place 400 medley relay at Summer Junior Nationals, is looking ahead to club season with SwimMAC and maybe the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. She’s also in the process looking at colleges for swimming. She has another year of high school to get even faster. “She loves to race,” Berens said. “Part of the success, I think, for some of these swimmers, is the fact that they just love to race, whoever it is, wherever they are and whatever team they’re swimming for.” How the rest faredThe South Meck boys’ swim team finished third in the 4A state meet with 175 points, 15 behind second place Hough. Cary Green Hope won the meet. The Sabres were led by Graham Weaver, who finished fifth in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle relays. South Meck’s 200-yard freestyle relay (Weaver, Jason Hseih, Spencer Green and Kenny Dimitrov) finished fourth.South Meck diver Brendan Schaffer finished fifth in the state. Ardrey Kell’s Jack Kramer finished sixth.The Providence High boys’ 200-yard medley relay (Kyle Darmody, Hunter Brawley, Pierce Bradshaw and John Ferretti) finished third. Darmody also won a title in the 50 freestyle, swimming an All-American automatic qualifying time of 20.54 seconds, and finished second in the 100 free with another All-American time (45.3 seconds).The Panthers’ 400-yard freestyle relay (Bradshaw, Zach Cox, Brawley and Darmody) finished second. Providence’s boys finished fifth as a team. Ardrey Kell’s Connor Long and Jack Eudy finished fourth and fifth respectively in the boys’ 100-yard butterfly. The Knight boys finished eighth.Independence’s Hunter Brakovec finished third in the boys’ 500-yard freestyle.The Providence High girls’ finished fourth in the state meet, led by seventh place finishes in the 200-yard medley relay (Bree Bynum, Mary Weinstein, Catherine Maxey and Elizabeth Ritger), 200 freestyle relay (Jean Livingston, Adair Sloan, Kristie Darmody and Ritger), 100 butterfly (Maxey) and 500 freestyle (Livingston), and sixth place finishes in the 200 freestyle (Livingston) and 400 freestyle relay (Maxey, Weinstein, Darmody and Livingston).
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
South Meck swimmer wins 2 state titles
South Mecklenburg junior Alexandra Martelle won two individual state championships at the NCHSAA 4A state meet. She's the first girls' swimmer at the school to win a title in at least 20 years.
South Mecklenburg junior swimmer Alexandra Martelle swam All-American automatic qualifying times in both of her state championship swims. Courtesy of Kate Weaver Photography