But the Lady Trojans, who had won 13 of the past 14 county championships, weren’t going to depart Mountain View Aquatic Center quietly.
Lassiter went on a rapid surge late in the meet, and had Walton been disqualified in the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay, it would have pulled off the improbable comeback.
But Walton kept its composure and took fourth in the 400 freestyle relay, held off Lassiter and won the county title for the first time since 2008 with 574.5 points. Lassiter settled for second with 546.5.
Kennesaw Mountain clinched the 400 freestyle relay to solidify its third-place finish with 402 points. Pope (313) was fourth and Hillgrove (243) rounded out the top five.
Even though Lassiter bested Walton in all three relays, the Lady Raiders controlled the early individual events, which ended up being the key to their success.
They did so by using depth to their advantage.
“We were improving our positions in the first half of the meet, and then we gradually started losing position, starting with the 500 (freestyle),” Walton coach Sharon Loughran said. “In the 400 freestyle relay, we knew we just had to finish it because a DQ would have cost us the meet.”
Walton started gaining points in the 200 freestyle, with Mary Beckwith and Halle Friedman taking fourth and fifth, respectively. The Lady Raiders then outnumbered Lassiter in the 200 individual medley, with Kira de Bruyn and Jane Watts taking first and second and Sehyun Cho finishing eighth. The Lady Raiders were also loaded in the 100 butterfly, with de Bruyn, Cho and Olivia Winkler taking second, seventh and eighth.
The early events put Walton ahead by nearly 100 points going into the 500 freestyle, which was just over the halfway point of the meet.
After the 500 freestyle, Lassiter made its push.
It started with a victory in the 200 freestyle relay. In the 100 backstroke, Micaela Janco, Nicole Prendes and Ali Ramirez took second, fourth and fifth — ahead of the Walton swimmers. And Jordan Drake and Lauren O’Malley finished in the top two of the 100 breaststroke, with Lexi Glunn fourth, putting Lassiter in position to win the meet with only the 400 freestyle relay remaining.
“The girls had a late start, but they really came on strong at the end,” Lassiter coach Lauren Barnes said. “Our young girls stepped up (in the end), and I’m so proud.”