It had taken all her strength to remain focused when there was so much to cry about.
But Cape Coral senior Megan Galbreath knew there was more on the line in the diving competition on Thursday at the Region 2A-3 swimming championships at the FGCU Aquatics Center.
She needed to fight for her coach, Jenn Panicaro, who had been hit with a brain aneurysm on Monday and was in the hospital with a coma. Now she needed to win for her.
“I really wanted to go out there and do it for her,” she said. “That’s what helped me along.”
Galbreath not only captured her second straight regional championship, but she manufactured her most important performance to date, scoring 517 points, the most she’s claimed since beginning the sport as a sophomore.
She qualified for the Class 2A championships at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center yet again, where she finished as a runner-up the year before. Diving 11 times Thursday, she referenced her inward 1-and-a-half pike as her most important dive of the day.
“This is my first time breaking the 500 boundary, so that’s pretty awesome,” she said. “It’s kind of an honor and it says you do it really consistently.”
The win ended up being an emotional moment. The senior, who committed to Harvard on Oct. 1, began to cry alongside Cape Coral head girls coach Dianne Kimbel following her win. Later, after the meet was over, she cried again on the shoulder of her mother.
“She still wins region,” Kimbel said. “And she doesn’t just win the region, but she scores a lot. It says a lot about the kind of athlete Jenn has made her into and the kind of person Megan is.”
But emotion had carried more than one athlete, too. Cape Coral senior Savannah Bowser had been in a major car accident on Tuesday, and coaches wanted her to sit through the meet to rest.
Yet Bowser wanted to compete in the pool anyway, despite soreness. She prevailed through the pain and secured quality performances in the 200-yard freestyle, where she was fourth with a time of 1:54.60, and in the 500-yard freestyle, where she was fifth in 5:04.57.
“I was really just trying to give it my best,” she said. “I was trying to push for it and get to the wall. Trying to get through the wall of pain.”
While Bowser didn’t automatically qualify for the Class 2A championships, she remained hopeful that her performances would qualify her for the final meet — outside the top two finishers, state qualifiers are compared against each other in every region to fill out the remaining brackets.
The senior had qualified for the state championships since her freshman year.
Sophomore Jonah Martinez was second overall in the 100-yard breaststroke and qualified for the state meet, too. Martinez was also part of a fifth-place performance in the boys’ 200-yard medley relay which also featured Santi Rosas, Jack Pellegrino and Wayne Bilancione.
Pellegrino was sixth in the 100-yard butterfly in 55.66 seconds.