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Salute to the champs: Sacred Heart’s Lauryn Johnson the closer

The anchor leg for the Spartans’ 400-yard freestyle relay teams with Joan Cash, Fiona Walsh and Hannah Harkins to win state Federation swimming title.

Sacred Heart Academy's Lauryn Johnson gets ready before

Sacred Heart Academy's Lauryn Johnson gets ready before the start of 500-yard freestyle final at the state Federation meet at Ithaca College.

Lauryn Johnson entered the pool for her final 100 yards of the state championship at Ithaca College with a slim lead.

The anchor leg of Sacred Heart’s 400-yard freestyle relay, Johnson knew she needed to swim her best for her teammates despite having already competed in three earlier races.

Her 51.81 100-yard split opened up the lead and sealed the win in 3:32.25 for the Sacred Heart team also consisting of Joan Cash, Fiona Walsh and Hannah Harkins.

“It’s pretty rough and it’s never going to feel good in your third or fourth race,” Johnson said. “You just have to keep a positive mentality and I do my best every time I dive into the pool.”

Cash, who also swam in the 50 and 100 freestyles and on the 200-freestyle relay team, got Sacred Heart off to a quick start, swimming a 51.69 in the first 100 yards.

“Last year I didn’t do as well as I wanted individually,” Cash said. “This year I really improved so I was happy.”

Walsh swam the second leg in 53.94 and Harkins followed with a 54.81.

Johnson looked at the win, which came in the last event of the weekend, as a potential inspiration not just for her other teammates but the rest of the athletes at Sacred Heart as well.

“Now all the other sports teams will look up to our relay team and know that we won states and they can too,” Johnson said. “My goal next year is to win at least one individual event and maybe our relay teams can win both events.”

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