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Nerves overcame the squad in the hot, muggy pool but the group will still send sophomore Elizabeth Alford to Saturday's main event.
Alford is the first alternate in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle, meaning one of the qualifiers would have to miss the meet for her to swim.
"She was really nervous and missed her two finals by a total of 14 one-hundredths," NPHS coach Tony Gray said. "She missed the 200 final by 0.13 seconds and the 100 final by .01.
"I think it's motivated her. She's already talking about next year."
Alford was the Putnam County champion in the 200-yard freestyle.
For the Cougars, looking to the future, and reflecting on the experience gained this year during the season -- and especially at the sectional preliminaries -- was the main goal.
"(Alford) was nervous, but next year she won't be. It was a good experience for her," Gray said. "(The whole team was) a little nervous today, and it showed in the first half of the meet. They settled down a little bit after I told them to just relax and have a little bit of fun."
For Alford and the rest of the squad, getting to watch on Saturday may be as beneficial for the future as it would be to making the finals.
"It was a good learning experience for the girls," Gray said. "We knew coming in it was going to be fast, and I think the girls weren't quite sure how fast it was going to be ... It's a good opportunity for them to see how other teams conduct themselves and how fast you have to be to be competitive."