Cara Jernigan’s first gold medal at the Hawaii age-group short course swimming championships was the product of 10 years of hard work. Her final one came with a stroke or two of good luck.
Jernigan and Leahi Camacho added to their gold haul Sunday when Kona Aquatics’ 200-yard freestyle relay team was bumped up two spots by disqualifications in a three-team race as the championships wrapped up Sunday at Kona Community Aquatic Center.
Jernigan, who called her last race of the meet a “happy surprise,” wound up as the second-highest point-getter in the 17-18 division — finishing behind the indomitable Jasmine Mau.
Kona Aquatics coach Steve Borowski offers his relay teams cigars if they avoid false starts, and it’s time for him to pay up after the club navigated all 24 of its relays cleanly.
“I’m going to have to get some bubblegum cigars,” he said. “I got to find them so I don’t get in trouble.”
Jernigan’s state record in the 100 breaststroke Friday earned her bonus points toward the individual scoring race.
“I feel like my whole life was leading up to that record,” she said.
But that was far from her only personal best of the weekend.
Jernigan, a senior at Kealakehe High, also can put a new high in the 200 breaststroke on her college resume after taking silver Sunday, and in prior races she recorded PRs while medaling in the 200 freestyle and 200 and 400 individual medleys.
“My times at this meet will change some things about (choosing) college,” she said.
Camacho, who was fourth in the 17-18 points race, finished with two individual golds as well after winning the 500 freestyle Sunday. She took second in the 200 backstroke earlier in the afternoon.
Kona Aquatics was the top Big Island finisher in sixth, while Warrior Aquatic Club was eighth. Led by Mau, Kamehameha Swim Club cruised to its 23rd straight state title.
WAC’s Korrie Tengan was second overall in the 10-and-under division. She collected silver in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM on Sunday to finish with eight medals, including one gold.
Two spots behind Tengan was Paloma Field, who led the charge for the Kona Dolphins. Field was second in Sunday’s 10-under 50 freestyle, her third silver of the meet. The Dolphins were 11th.
Hilo Aquatic Club’s Christian Kubo was second in the 17-18 200 breaststroke, while Kona Aquatics’ Aye Chan San Tun won bronze in the 13-14 100 butterfly.
There were approximately 550 swimmers in the field.
No one was as dominant as Mau, who will swim with Olympics star Missy Franklin next year at the University of California. The Punahou senior won eight individual golds for Oahu powerhouse Kamehameha.
And no swimmer was younger in the field than 7-year-old Clayton Oblero-Laboy of the Kona Dolphins.
Oblero-Laboy started swimming when he was 4 for a simple reason: He wanted to get in the water and cool off.
Now he exemplifies the youth movement going on with the Kona Dolphins. Oblero-Laboy is in it to win it, saying he’ll only stop when he gets “to the Olympics.”