DARKE COUNTY – Two senior swimmers who returned to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state championships are The Daily Advocate’s swimmers of the year for the 2015-16 season.
The Daily Advocate’s boys swimmer of the year is Greenville senior Jose’ Badell, and The Daily Advocate’s girls swimmer of the year is Versailles senior Lexi Fliehman.
For a fourth consecutive season Fliehman qualified for the state swim meet. This season she finished 12th in the state in the 100 yard freestyle, was part of Versailles’ fifth place 200 yard freestyle relay team and was part of the 15th place 200 yard medley relay team.
“Being named an OHSAA all-Ohio swimmer is an extremely high honor, and Lexi has received this honor for the past four years,” Versailles swim coach Penny Cromwell said.
To be named all-Ohio, swimmers must place in the top 16 of their event at the OHSAA state meet. The Versailles senior also was named an all-Lima area swimmer in each year of her high school career.
Fliehman was a freestyle sprinter who focused on the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle this year.
At the Coldwater Invitational, which is the unofficial Midwest Athletic Conference meet, she broke the meet record in the 100 yard freestyle and the 200 yard freestyle. She broke her own school record in the 50 yard freestyle at the state preliminary meet. She also was on the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay teams that hold school records.
“Her dedication to the sport of swimming is admirable,” Cromwell said. “Lexi is a hard worker and never complains about practicing. Watch for Lexi next year at Miami University as she will be a part of the girls swim team there. We will miss Lexi next year.”
Badell qualified for the OHSAA state meet for a second consecutive season despite battling a back injury for most of the season.
“I think both of us were not so sure he was going to do it again,” Greenville coach Mollie Mendoza said of Badell making it back to state. “Even though he was in so much pain, his ultimate goal was to get back to state. I think he did a great job continuing on even though he was not very comfortable at times. Finally when he did get some help for him it did make a world of difference.”
For most of the season Badell’s times weren’t matching the standards he had previously set. But then when the OHSAA postseason meets came around he started to feel better and improved his times dramatically.
Badell finished eighth in the district swim meet at Miami University with a time of 55.09, smashing his previous season best of 57.98 to qualify for state.
Badell finished his high school career as one of the most accomplished swimmers in Greenville history. He holds almost every school record in almost every swim discipline.
“I think that’s pretty surprising because most swimmers they have their niches,” Mendoza said. “He’s one of those swimmers who’s good in all events.”
Mendoza said Badell’s dedication to swimming since he was young helped him to excel.
“I think that comes down to starting early as a young child and learning the techniques for each of the strokes and working on them every year and making sure you’re bettering the strokes as you get older,” she said.
Badell is looking to continue his swimming career at the college level.
“He has grown a lot as a swimmer,” Mendoza said. “I think this is a great accomplishment that he has made for himself, and I just hope he does well in the future.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.