THS aims for more state titles in pool

TUPELO – John Servati doesn’t hide the fact that he’s greedy when it comes to winning state championships in swimming.
“We’ve won three and this could be four in a row,” said the Tupelo High senior swimmer. “It feels pretty good to win state. My sister, Sarah, was on a (Tupelo) girls team that won five state championships.”
Servati, who won the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke in last week’s Tupelo Invitational Meet, likes the Golden Wave’s chance of capturing a fourth consecutive boys state title at the Oct. 23 state meet in Biloxi.
“We can definitely win again,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we have the potential to win.”
Servati won individual state titles in 100 free and 100 back at last year’s meet. He was also a member of the Wave’s state champion 200 medley relay unit. He’s not sure what he’ll swim this season at state. He just wants to help the team.
“I enjoy the 200 free and 100 back the most,” he said. “I know Coach (Lucas) Smith is going to switch things up. There are a lot of options.”
Strong swimmers like Servati give a coach a lot of options.
“I see him swimming the free and back,” Smith said. “He’s not a one-stroke swimmer. That makes him pretty valuable.
“We make them swim things they hate. We make them swim things they love. We make them swim what’s best for the team.”
Servati’s versatility will help him in his quest to become a college swimmer. He plans to visit Alabama, Air Force, Florida State and Louisville this fall. He’s also working on scheduling a visit to Georgia.
Colton Freemont, Rick Deaton and newcomer Mihailo Nikolic, all individual winners in the recent THS meet, add to the Wave’s quality lineup.
On the girls’ side, junior Lacy Russell is the top returnee on Tupelo’s defending state champion team.
Russell won the 200 IM, 500 freestyle and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle units in the THS meet. She won a state title in the 100 breast and in the 200 medley relay last season.
“I’m told that the breaststroke is my best,” she said. “I usually swim the breast on the relays.”
The Lady Wave lost one of the its top swimmers in 18-time state champion Hannah Wilson and returns a young lineup.
“The girls team is young; we have no seniors,” Smith said. “It’s wide open. We don’t know who’s going to swim what event.”
The key to winning a ninth girls state title is success in the relays.
“The points are doubled,” Russell said. “The relays can make or break you.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal.com.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal