KINGSPORT – An unintentional slight was just enough motivation to push Volunteer senior swimmer Ellie McLain to become a regional champion with her best-ever time.

A swim meet tradition is for swimmers to march to their respective lanes as the top seed’s choice of music plays and the public address announcer identifies the event’s participants from lowest seed to highest.

But as the second-seeded McLain awaited her name being called for the 100 breast finals, something unusual happened. Or didn’t happen, rather.

“When they were doing walk-outs introducing the swimmers, they didn’t introduce her name,” said Volunteer swim coach Jim Whalen. “They went from the third-seeded person to the first-seeded person and forgot her name. She was like, ‘They forgot my name.’”

“At first, I didn’t know and then when they had called everybody else’s, I was just a little bit upset about that,” McLain said. “That definitely added fuel to the fire, honestly. So, I said, I’m going to make them remember my name.”

“She led wire to wire,” Whalen said. “That 100 breast was just awesome. When the race is over with, I said, ‘You better know who she is now!’”

“I kind of took it a little personal and I said they’re going to know who I am,” said McLain. “He had to announce it at the end that I was the 2021 regional champion. I feel like he knew who I was after that race.”

The slight, although just an inadvertent oversight by the announcer, was just enough to fire up McLain.

“I went into finals not with a great time and I was kind of upset about that,” she said. “But I said, ‘You know what, I’m in the top eight and I’m going to win this thing.’ And I came out and swam my best time ever (1:11.75).”

“I’m tickled to death that she won,” Whalen said. “She cut almost four seconds off where she was seeded at for the finals. I’m happy for her because she’s always been right there behind, finishing second or third.”

The girls team competed Saturday.

“We finished fourth overall,” Whalen said. “Ellie got all-conference and Amelia Henriott got all-conference, too. Amelia cut time in the 50 free and the 100 free. She swam really well. We had one DQ late in a relay, but it didn’t make any difference. We were still in fourth place.”

The boys team swam Sunday and placed third overall. As a combined team, Volunteer placed fourth, just four points behind Tennessee High. Science Hill was first overall and first among boys teams. Dobyns-Bennett won the girls team title and was second overall.

McLain has now qualified for the state swim meet, scheduled for April 23, for the fourth straight year.

“She’s in two events, the 200 IM and the 100 breast,” Whalen said.

“It felt really good,” McLain said of achieving her preseason goal of qualifying for the state. “It’s a long time coming. A lot of hard work goes into it. So, to be able to get that time that qualifies you to compete in state is an indescribable feeling. My other goal was to win regionals, which I did, so I’m pretty excited about that.”

Due to the COVID factor, instead of being held at one location, this year’s state meet is being split up into four separate locations. The swimmers will still be ranked according to times, they just won’t all be recorded in the same pool. McLain will swim right back at the Kingsport Aquatic Center, where Volunteer practices and swims its home meets.

“I feel like this is kind of our home pool where we practice here,” McLain said. “So, I kind of feel like they’re coming to our pool and we’re going to show them what we’re made of. I’m excited.

“They’re taking four different districts and assigning pools at those districts, so a lot of the Knoxville people are going to come down to the Aquatic Center and swim,” McLain said. “So, we’ll have a little bit of a different competition. It will be a different atmosphere, so it will be a good competition.

“I’m hoping since they’re doing state a little bit different this year, I’m hoping to go under 1:10 on the 100 breast stroke. And I’m also hoping to go under 2:20 on my 200 IM, which I’m right on the verge of doing. I really just want to place good this year at state because I’ve signed for college to swim. I just really want to go into college with some good times under my belt,” she said.

McLain, the daughter of Chad and Angie McLain, will attend Mars Hill University next fall.

“I’ve been swimming competitively since I was about six,” she said. “So, I’ve always known that I want to continue that for as long as I could. I applied at a lot of different colleges and I went to Mars Hill and I just fell in love with the school. I fell in love with the coaches. I’m really excited about it. I’ve met a lot of the team members and they talked to me. It’s going to be great. I know it.

“I just think it’s going to be a really great opportunity for me to take my swimming career even farther. Their breast stroker is graduating, so I’m going to be stepping up as their lead breast stroker. My times are really competitive in the division, so I’m really excited to see where I fall within that,” said McLain, who has her education planned out.

“I plan to major in political science and psychology,” she said. “Then I plan on attending law school after I graduate in four years.”

McLain said she wants to become a criminal defense lawyer.

“I always loved Forensic Files growing up,” she said, laughing. “My mom would always watch that. Then I started taking criminal justice classes in high school and I just really loved the whole thing. I kind of have a little bit of fire to me, so I kind of like to argue. So, I just think that will be kind of nice.”

When asked if she’d practiced any arguing with Whalen, McLain laughed and said no.

“He’s great. He’s always done the best for his swimmers. I couldn’t appreciate him more,” she said.

“Most of these schools, the coaches have these kids for four years and they’re gone,” Whalen said. “I’ve had Ellie for 10 years, when she was little, in middle school and high school.

“(On) senior night, I’m thinking, ‘I’ve had these kids a long time,’ you know, since they were tiny little things just learning. Now, they’re graduating and going to college,” said Whalen, who coaches with wife, Robin.

“It’s definitely sad for me because I’ve been coached by these people for years,” McLain said. “I swim summer league with them. So, it’s sad, but also I’m really thankful for what all they’ve given me and how they’ve been able to push me farther in my career. I’m really grateful for it.”

Results of the 2021 NETS Swimming & Diving Regional Championships this weekend at the Kingsport Aquatic Center:

2021 NETS Regional

Championships

Kingsport Aquatic Center – April 10-11

COMBINED TEAM RESULTS – 1. Science Hill 1116, 2. Dobyns-Bennett 1020, 3. Tennessee High 325, 4. Volunteer 321, 5. Sullivan Central 210, 6. Elizabethton 189, 7. Sullivan East 181, 8. Kingsport Area Swim Team 65, 9. Chuckey-Doak 37, 10. Cherokee 12, 11. Sullivan South 11.

2021 NETS Girls Regional Championships

Kingsport Aquatic Center – April 10

Girls Team Results – 1. Dobyns-Bennett 533, 2. Science Hill 513, 3. Tennessee High 231, 4. Volunteer 148, 5. Elizabethton 133, 6. Sullivan East 88, 7. Kingsport Area Swim Team 65, 8. Sullivan Central 60, 9. Sullivan South 11, 10. Cherokee 9.

Girls Events Results

50 Freestyle – 1. Libby Russum, Dobyns-Bennett 24.09, 2. Ava Sherer, Dobyns-Bennett 26.34; 3. Kate Mitchell, Science Hill 26.46; 4. Amelia Henroit, Volunteer 27.77; 5. Susanna Digby, Elizabethton 27.86; 6. Ellie Campbell, Dobyns-Bennett 28.74; 7. Mackenzie Henley, Dobyns-Bennett 29.11; 8. Riley Skaggs, Sullivan East 29.79.

Meet Record: 23.76 – Heather Kudialis, Science Hill, 2015

100 Freestyle – 1. Libby Russum, Dobyns-Bennett 52.14 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. Mariam Shams, Science Hill 57.65; 3. Kate Mitchell, Science Hill 58.39; 4. Grace Johnson, Tennessee High 58.93; 5. Sophie Arnold, Tennessee High 1:00.83; 6. Amelia Henroit, Volunteer 1:02.37; 7. Kaley Guinn, Science Hill 1:04.08; 8. Madison Park, Dobyns-Bennett 1:04.11.

Meet Record: 52.51 – Heather Kudialis, Science Hill, 2016

200 Freestyle – 1. Cassie Lowe, Science Hill 1:56.46; 2. Anna Johnson, Kingsport Area Swim Team 2:02.18; 3. Alex Ponasik, Dobyns-Bennett 2:02.68; 4. Desi Collins, Science Hill 2:03.30; 5. Mary Bastian, Dobyns-Bennett 2:09.00; 6. Grace Johnson, Tennessee High 2:10.20; 7. Hunter Wells, Doybns-Bennett 2:17.39; 8. Sophie Tester, Science Hill 2:28.24.

Meet Record: 1:54.01 – Morgan Misenar, Science Hill, 2019

500 Freestyle – 1. Anna Johnson, Kingsport Area Swim Team 5:26.12; 2. Desi Collins, Science Hill 5:26.97; 3. Emily Beaird, Science Hill 5:39.33; 4. Abigail Caveness, Dobyns-Bennett 5:57.21; 5. Meaghan O’Connor, Science Hill 5Z:57.34; 6. Olivia Johnson, Kingsport Area Swim Team 6:05.18; 7. Abby Slap, Science Hill 6:18.90; 8. Hunter Wells, Dobyns-Bennett 6:21.47.

Meet Record: 5:11.88 – Anna Miller, Science Hill, 2000

100 Back – 1. Cassie Lowe, Science Hill 58.97; 2. Carolina Caveness, Dobyns-Bennett 1:01.88; 3. Mariam Shams, Science Hill 1:05.09; 4. Olivia Johnson, Kingsport Area Swim Team 1:07.43; 5. Abigail Caveness, Dobyns-Bennett, 1:07.74; 6. Sophie van der Biest, Dobyns-Bennett 1:09.67; 7. Sophia Arnold, Tennessee high 1:09,90; 8. Susanna Digby, Elizabethton 1:13.47.

Meet Record: 57.67 – Claire Gerlock, TG, 2018

100 Breast – 1. Ellie McLain, Volunteer 1:11.75; 2. Ava Sherer, Dobyns-Bennett 1:12.40; 3. Macy Shell, Science Hill 1:14.76; 4. Mary Bastian, Dobyns-Bennett 1:16.18; 5. Meredith Mooney, Dobyns-Bennett 1:18.78; 6. Madison Park, Dobyns-Bennett 1:19.21; 7. Deanna Miller, Science Hill 1:22.51; 8. Emma Davis, Tennessee High 1:26.38.

Meet Record: 1:04.85 – Haley Altman, Science Hill, 2019

100 Butterfly – 1. Kassidy McGuire, Dobyns-Bennett 57.50 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. Alex Ponasik, Dobyns-Bennett 1:01.47; 3. Sofia van der Biest, Dobyns-Bennett 1:05.09; 4. Nicole Liu, Science Hill 1:06.55; 5. Cadie Digby, Elizabethton 1:09.78; 6. Meaghan O’Connor, Science Hill 1:12.57; 7. Abby Slap, Science Hill 1:13.86; 8. Madelyn Aguilar, Science Hill 1:25.27.

Meet Record: 58.13 – Tessa Wilson, Science Hill, 2014

200 Individual Medley – 1. Kassidy McGuire, Dobyns-Bennett 2:16.85; 2. Caroline Caveness, Dobyns-Bennett 2:21.10; 3. Emily Beaird, Science Hill 2:23.25; 4. Ellie McClain, Volunteer 2:23.27; 5. Nicole Liu, Science Hill 2:28.23; 6. Deanna Miller, Science Hill 2:34.04; 7. Cadie Digby, Elizabethton 2:24.79; 8. Macy Shell, Science Hill 2:35.88.

Meet Record: 2:10.74 – Tessa Wilson, Science Hill, 2014

200 Freestyle Relay – 1. Dobyns-Bennett (Alex Ponasik, Ava Sherer, Kassidy McGuire, Libby Russum) 1:40.11 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. Science Hill 1:42.08; 3. Tennessee High 2:01.08; 4. Sullivan East 2:17.42; 5. Volunteer DQ; 6. Cherokee SCR.

Meet Record: 1:41.70 – Science Hill (Kudialis, Gree, Lampson, Gay), 2016

400 Freestyle Relay – 1. Science Hill (Cassie Lowe, Nicole Liu, Desi Collins, Emily Beaird) 3:46.30; 2. Dobyns-Bennett 3:56.62; 3. Tennessee High 4:26.11; 4. Elizabethton 4:27.32; 5. Volunteer 4:47.95; 6. Sullivan Central 5:40.22.

Meet Record: 3:44.15 – Science Hill (Misenar, Gay, Barnes, Tonita), 2018

200 Medley Relay – 1. Dobyns-Bennett (Caroline Caveness, Ava Sherer, Kassidy McGuire, Libby Russum) 1:52.48 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. Science Hill 1:59.73; 3. Volunteer 2:14.32; 4. Elizabethton 2:17.30; 5. Sullivan East 2:43.88; 6. Sullivan Central 3:10.53, 7. Tennessee High DQ; 8. Cherokee SCR.

Meet Record: 1:52.91 – Science Hill (Kudialis, Gay, Green, Ayers), 2016.

1-Meter Diving – 1. Grace Powell, Science Hill 409.55; 2. Kaylie Mosher, Tennessee High 307.25; 3. Layla Russell, Dobyns-Bennett 301.35; 4. Emma True, Dobyns-Bennett 213.15.

Meet Record: 468.65 – Hannah Bowman, Science Hill, 2015

2021 NETS Boys Regional Championships

Kingsport Aquatic Center – April 11

BOYS TEAM RESULTS – 1. Science Hill 603, 2. Dobyns-Bennett 487, 3. Volunteer 173, 4. Sullivan Central 150, 5. Tennessee High 94, 6. Sullivan East 93, 7. Elizabethton 56, 8. Chuckey-Doak 37, 9. Cherokee 3.

BOYS EVENTS RESULTS

50 FREE – 1. Johnathan Lai, Dobyns-Bennett 22.03; 2. Evan Jones, Tennessee High 22.10; 3. RJ. Brumit, Dobyns-Bennett 22.12; 4. Luke Barnes, Science Hill 22.50; 5. Logan Smith, Science Hill 22.99; 6. Elijah Smith, Elizabethton 24.16; 7. Matthew Pohland, Science Hill 24.49; 8. Ian Yonts, Volunteer 25.44.

Meet Record: 21.73 – Evan Cathers, Science Hill, 2015

100 FREE – 1. Matthew Potter, Science Hill 47.38 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. RJ Brumit, Dobyns-Bennett 49.29; 3. Evan Jones, Tennessee High 50.57; 4. Logan Smith, Science Hill 51.73; 5. Finn Kidner, Science Hill 52.77; 6. Gregory Allen, Dobyns-Bennett 53.87; 7. Elijah Smith, Elizabethton 52.89; 8. Tyler Overbay, Science Hill 55.50.

Meet Record: 47.48 – Evan Cathers, Science Hill, 2015

200 FREE – 1. Jonah Cathelyn, Science Hill 1:49.37; 2. Zachary Anguish, Chuckey-Doak 1:51.24; 3. Colin Burnette, Science Hill 1:52.51; 4. Nicholas Love, Dobyns-Bennett 1:53.33; 5. Finn Kidner, Science Hill 1:56.67; 6. Owen Hoover, Science Hill 1:59.01; 7. Ian Webb, Tennessee High 2:04.60; 8. Noah Austin, Dobyns-Bennett 2:07.72.

Meet Record: 1:41.74 – Owen Devine, Science Hill, 2017

500 FREE – 1. Zachary Anguish, Chuckey-Doak 4:53.33; 2. Jonah Cathelyn, Science Hill 5:02.60; 3. Colin Burnette, Science Hill 5:06.94; 4. Gabriel Yepez, Science Hill 5:09.62; 5. Joe Neglia, Dobyns-Bennett 5:12.53; 6. Will Mayhew, Dobyns-Bennett 5:16.46; 7. Owen Hoover, Science Hill 5:20.76; 8. Kody Broussard, Elizabethton 5:26.06.

Meet Record: 4:40.72 – Chris Kelly, Morristown West, 2008

100 BACK – 1. Luke Barnes, Science Hill 55.22; 2. Nicholas Love, Dobyns-Bennett 55.89; 3. Daniel Huynh, Science Hill 56.87; 4. Gregory Allen, Dobyns-Bennett 57.41; 5. Cooper Misenar, Science Hill 57.89; 6. Noah Austin, Dobyns-Bennett 1:01.86; 7. Matthew Thayer, Dobyns-Bennett 1:02.97; 8. Tyler Overbay, Science Hill 1:06.13.

Meet Record: 50.00 – Daniel Chang, Science Hill, 2015

100 BREAST – 1. Matthew Potter, Science Hill 59.37; 2. Bruno Zagolin, Science Hill 1:06.32; 3. Gabriel Yepez, Science Hill, 1:07.24; 4. Nicholas Robinson, Dobyns-Bennett 1:08.16; 5. Graham Chandler, Dobyns-Bennett 1:13.59; 6. Samuel Berry, Science Hill 1:17.19; 7. Luke Johnson, Sullivan Central 1:19.72; 8. Zach Taylor, Volunteer 1:24.08.

Meet Record: 55.19 – Daniel Chang, Science Hill, 2016

100 FLY – 1. Johnathan Lai, Dobyns-Bennett 51.93; 2. Dustin Niebauer, Science Hill 53.19; 3. Nolan Hill, Science Hill 55.82; 4. Nicholas Robinson, Dobyns-Bennett 56.65; 5. Matthew Pohland, Science Hill 58.65; 6. Atkins Hodshon, Science Hill 1:00.34; 7. Kody Broussard, Elizabethton 1:00.56; 8. Matthew Thayer, Dobyns-Bennett 1:01.25

Meet Record: 49.58 – Daniel Chang, Science Hill, 2015

200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – 1. Dustin Niebauer, Science Hill 1:58.45; 2. Joe Neglia, Dobyns-Bennett 2:04.39; 3. Nolan Hill, Science Hill 2:08.71; 4. Will Mayhew, Dobyns-Bennett 2:10.42; 5. Bruno Zagolin, Science Hill 2:12.30; 6. Atkins Hodshon, Science Hill 2:19.64; 7. Luke Johnson, Sullivan Central 2:50.82; 8. Matthew Carter, Volunteer 2:51.70.

Meet Record: 1:48.51 – Daniel Chang, Science Hill, 2016

200 FREE RELAY – 1. Science Hill (Luke Barnes, Logan Smith, Nolan Hill, Jonah Cathelyn), 1:31.39; 2. Dobyns-Bennett 1:31.54; 3. Volunteer 1:52.52; 4. Sullivan East 1:55.62; 5. Sullivan Central 2:13.03.

Meet Record: 1:26.85, Science Hill (D. Chang, O. Devine, W. Wireman, I. Mills), 2016

400 FREE RELAY – 1. Science Hill (Dustin Niebauer, Luke Barnes, Jonah Cathelyn, Matthew Potter), 3:16.69 (NEW MEET RECORD); 2. Dobyns-Bennett 3:34.78; 3. Volunteer 4:17.81; 4. Sullivan Central 4:28.95; 5. Tennessee High DQ

Meet Record: 3:16.90, Science Hill (N. Bier, P. Wilson, S. Britton, D. Chang), 2015

200 MEDLEY RELAY – 1. Science Hill (Dustin Niebauer, Matthew Potter, Nolan Hill, Logan Smith), 1:38.09; 2. Dobyns-Bennett 1:40.43; 3. Volunteer 2:07.40; 4. Sullivan Central 2:10.67; 5. Sullivan East 2:19.37; 6. Tennessee High SCR

Meet Record: 1:37.22 – Science Hill (P. Wilson, D. Chang, I. Mills, E. Cathers), 2015

1-METER DIVING – 1. Michael Wissert, Dobyns-Bennett 432.90; 2. Abram Morton, Dobyns-Bennett 351.50, 3. Alexander Batts 300.40; 4. Harrison Himelwright, Dobyns-Bennett 60.85.

Meet Record: 438.80 – Michael Maughan, Home School, 2010