However, even Hart had to celebrate after coming from behind to finish in first place in the 100-yard backstroke during the state championship meet Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
“It was very exciting when she was in the water for the backstroke,” Cartersville assistant coach Mindy Surrett said. “[Hart] actually came from behind to win. She was in second place all the way until the very last flip turn and, on the flip turn, she came out in the water just neck-and-neck with Aja Malone and she ended up, within the last 10 feet, pulling out ahead and barely beat her. It was very exciting.
“We were screaming and crying and shaking. Elise is very calm, cool and collected. She’s not an emotional person, so she just got out of the pool and she turned to look at the scoreboard and she went, ‘Yes’ and she held her fists up. And she’s not normally like that. I think she was very excited at that moment.”
Hart finished with a time of 55.33 seconds, good enough to qualify for an “All-American automatic cut time.”
“I don’t know what that means. All I know is it is really fast and really good,” Surrett said.
All classifications are lumped into the state meet, meaning Hart outdid all 100-yard butterfly swimmers in the state. Hart also took second place in the 100-yard butterfly earlier in the meet with a time of 55.12. Both Hart’s butterfly and backstroke times were personal records and Cartersville High records.
“We were hoping for a first, second or third in both events,” Surrett said. “She came into the state championship seeded first in backstroke. We were hoping for a first place. She exceeded those expectations; she got her best time ever in both events.”
Allatoona High’s Malone edged out Hart in the 100-yard butterfly, adding motivation when the 100-backstroke came around with the two swimmers competing against each other once again.
“She was very determined when she came out of the water after the butterfly. She was extremely determined to win the backstroke,” Surrett said. “The girl who beat her in butterfly, Aja Malone, is a friend of hers. They went first and second in the butterfly, and then in the backstroke, Elise got first and Aja got second.
“[Hart and Malone] have been swimming against each other in year-round since they were seven or eight years old, a long time. Elise had beaten [Malone] once, I think, so she was very excited that she won.”
Hart, who signed to swim at the United States Air Force Academy in Nov. 2013, attained enough points, just with her results, to place the Cartersville High girls swim team 18th out of 113 teams.
Hart’s previous best finish at the state meet was last year, as a junior, when she came in sixth place in the backstroke.