Hough’s Allen shatters records in dominant swim season


HUNTERSVILLE – Emily Allen dove into the pool four times during the finals event at the N.C. 4A girls swimming championships.

Four times she emerged as a gold medal winner.

Four times she set a state record.

Not bad for someone who was battling flu-like symptoms that day. Allen, a Hough High sophomore, is the Herald Weekly Girls Swimmer of the Year.

Allen set N.C. records in winning the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. She won the 50 in 23.02 seconds and the 100 in 49.77 seconds, nearly three seconds ahead of the field. Both of Allen’s winning times earned automatic All-American status.

She swam the anchor legs as Hough set state records with dominant performances in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. The Huskies broke the record for the 200 during the preliminaries, and re-broke their mark in the final with a time of 1 minute, 35.04 seconds. The winning quartet was Shannon Bauer, Heather Merritt, Jessica Merritt and Allen.

The 400-yard relay team of Heather Merritt, Ally Dupay, Jessica Merritt and Allen won in a record time of 3:24.83, nearly six seconds ahead of the second-place team.

“I love my team,” Allen said. “We keep doing our best and swimming as hard as we can. We pump each other up. In the relays, we just kept up the momentum from the morning (preliminaries), when we set the record in the 200 freestyle relay. And the 400 (freestyle) record we broke was the one we set last year.”

Hough’s four state records helped the school win the team title, scoring 323 points at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary on Feb. 7, well ahead of runner-up Cary Green Hope’s 236. It was the second straight state championship for Hough, a third-year school.

Allen’s dominant performance at the state meet was a continuation of her winning ways during the regional.

A week earlier, she broke the N.C. 4A West regional record in winning the 100-yard freestyle (52.29 seconds). She also won the 50-yard freestyle and swam the anchor leg in Hough’s winning 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays.

Allen’s scorecard at both meets - eight gold medals in eight events. She etched her name on five new records.

“They’re all driven to do so well,” Hough coach Tim Queen said. “They don’t want to let their teammates down and they push each other.”

Allen is a year-round swimmer for the NOMAD swim club.

“I feel like I was better this (school) year,” she said. “I’ve been to three national meets, which helps me learn how to handle pressure and compete.”

The only meet Hough didn’t dominate was the I-MECK 4A conference championships. It was postponed by icy weather.