There was really no hiding where swimming always fit in for most of Andrew Ruffing's life.

The Parkview senior kept up the sport at the insistence of his mother - longtime swim coach Cathy Ruffing - but it clearly wasn't his favorite. He stayed active for fitness reasons, mixing the sport in with football and baseball, his first love.

Even family members preferred watching him in baseball games over swimming races.

"(Baseball) was all he wanted to do, but I wouldn't let him quit swimming," Cathy Ruffing said. "I said no. You can't quit, just for the aerobics basically. I wouldn't let him quit, I told him he had to swim. Whatever days he had baseball and football, he'd do those. On the other days he had to swim. He didn't want to swim, he really didn't.

"But I kept looking at him going, 'I'm sorry, you've got to swim.' We'd try to tell him he was good, that he couldn't quit. He'd say, 'You're just mom. You're just saying that.' But you watch him swim and I tried tell him that it wasn't just us telling him that. But he would not believe us. It was finally like, 'OK, maybe I can do this.'"

The baseball dreams didn't fade easily.

Ruffing, a pitcher and outfielder, played travel ball and two seasons of high school baseball at Parkview. But he gave up the sport in January, just before his junior year of baseball was ready to begin.

The sport he loved was somehow replaced by swimming, as he emerged as one of the state's best. Although he took a full year off as a junior from USS swimming, he still got bullet fast in the pool, breaking Parkview head coach Jack Gayle's 50 freestyle record.

Ruffing won a state title in the 100 backstroke last season, then placed second in Class AAAAA in the 100 butterfly. His 100 fly time of 49.57 seconds was below the state record, but it was 0.29 seconds slower than UGA recruit Michael Arnold, who placed first and also lowered the state mark.

The sudden drop in times caused him to rethink his focus on baseball.

"I wanted to play baseball still but going under the state record your junior year (in swimming) is hard to deny," Ruffing said.

"I guess it was a slap in the face, like, 'I don't really hate swimming that much. I think I can do it.' I'm definitely glad I picked swimming."

Swimming created good college opportunities at big schools for Ruffing, who committed to Auburn this past Sunday over Tennessee and Florida State. The versatile sprinter couldn't have picked a more successful college program - the Tigers have won 10 men's and women's NCAA titles since 2002, including five in a row by the men from 2003 to 2007.

"I loved it down there," Ruffing said. "It was a lot different than a lot of the colleges I went to. The environment was a lot better.

"Everything was a competition down there. I thought it would be an easy place to work."

Right now Ruffing is working on his high school team. Parkview won county last season, but fell short to rival Brookwood in the AAAAA championships. The result ended the Panthers' two-year hold on the state title.

Individually, Ruffing wants to win his two state races, preferably with a state-record time in the 100 fly to erase the painful memories of last year's runner-up finish to Arnold.

"That race sticks with me," Ruffing said. "I remember it like it was yesterday. All I remember is before and the finish. At the finish I was just dying. I pushed off the wall and coming off that wall was awful. It hurt. There are no complaints with the time but I was bummed I guess."

He was upset because racing is what he loves most about swimming. The monotony of practices, the laps after laps, don't interest him much. But going head-to-head with other speedsters gets him fired up enough that he really enjoys the sport.

Not that he has completely ruled out baseball.

"I definitely miss (baseball)," Ruffing said. "If an opportunity came up to play for somebody, I might do it."

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BOYS

Who: Andrew Feeney

School: Norcross

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· Second at state, county in 100 breaststroke as a junior

· Had county's second-best 100 breast time last season of 59.90 seconds

Favorite athlete: Lance Armstrong

Favorite movie: "Anchorman"

Favorite music artist: Jack Johnson

Favorite food: Chinese

Least favorite event: 500 freestyle

Coach Billie Jatko's comment: "Andrew is one of those rare athletes who excel in both sport and academics. He trains up to four hours a day and is still able to maintain a GPA above 3.9. He is taking courses that are part of the Norcross IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma Program and Advanced Placement courses. His dedication and discipline have been rewarded with his acceptance into The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. We are very proud of him and his accomplishments during his high school career."

Who: Will Freeman

School: GAC

Class: Junior

Noteworthy:

· Third at state in 500 freestyle

· 10th at state in 200 freestyle

Favorite athlete: Scot Davis

Favorite movie: "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Favorite music group: Journey

Favorite food: Prime rib

Least favorite event: Backstroke

Coach Chris Davis' comment: "He's really a student of the sport. That helps separate him. He understands the sport. He knows what other people are doing and what he needs to do to get to the level he wants to be at."

Who: Tommy King

School: Peachtree Ridge

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· Second at state, county in 100 freestyle

· Also runner-up at state, county in 200 free

Favorite athlete: Usain Bolt

Favorite movie: "Superbad"

Favorite music artist: Pastor Troy

Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies

Least favorite event: Butterfly

Coach Jeremy Laird's comment: "Whether working with others or getting ready for next challenge, Tommy seems to be ready and motivated for whatever comes next. His maturity and reliability put him far ahead of the competition when working on demanding and difficult tasks. Tommy stays focused and ready, yet allows his humor and good wits to get him through the tough tasks. His cleverness, ambition and confidence are what drive him to be successful."

Who: Danny Nguyen

School: Brookwood

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· County champion in 200 individual medley last season

· Fifth at state in 100 butterfly

Favorite athlete: Thomas Nguyen

Favorite movie: "The Notebook"

Favorite music artist: Lil' Wayne

Favorite food: Rice

Least favorite event: 500 freestyle

Coach Greg Puckett's take: "His first two seasons on the team showed that he had tremendous potential and promise. Going into last season we all had high expectations for what would hopefully be a tremendous season. He ended up having a very good season but unfortunately untimely injuries prevented him from having the breakout season that he had hoped for. As unfortunate as the injuries were they did ultimately show his strength of character and competitive drive as he ended up competing at the state meet on a knee that he could barely walk on just days before. Hopefully this season he will be able to able to combine all of his natural talent and competitive desires with a healthy body and have a successful senior year."

Who: Andrew Ruffing

School: Parkview

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· State, county champion in 100 backstroke

· Second at state in 100 butterfly with state-record time

· Set county record in 100 fly

Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan

Favorite movie: "The Incredible Hulk," 2008 version

Favorite music group: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Favorite food: Teriyaki chicken and rice

Least favorite event: 200 freestyle in high school, 400 IM in USS

Coach Jack Gayle's take: "For the past four years it has been a privilege to get to work with someone of Andrew's caliber. Swimmers like Andrew rarely come along, and I mean that in more than just a purely athletic sense. Andrew is not only a fantastic athlete, but also a great student and teammate. He truly cares about Parkview swimming, even though most club swimmers get their recognition and college scholarships through their year-round programs. I admire what he has done here and hope that his future at Auburn is equally successful."

Who: Conor Sweeney

School: Brookwood

Class: Junior

Noteworthy:

· Second at state, county in 500 freestyle

· Had county's second-best 500 free time of 4:38.10

Favorite athlete: Brady Quinn

Favorite movie: "Forrest Gump"

Favorite music group: Coldplay

Favorite food: Strawberries

Least favorite event: 1,650 freestyle

Coach Greg Puckett's take: "Initially it was difficult to get a good read on Conor last season. He was always competitive in his races, just winning some and just losing others. Unfortunately though he never really had any overly impressive performances early in the season so I couldn't get a good feel for whether this was the best he had or whether he had another gear to take it to another level. Fortunately at the end of the season when the competition became more intense he was able to find that next gear and perform at a higher level in his individual events and more importantly on the relays. I'm confident that he will be able to progress from the point he was at the end of the season and ultimately have an really impressive junior year."

GIRLS

Who: Sommers Creed

School: Mill Creek

Class: Sophomore

Noteworthy:

· State, county champion in 500 freestyle

· Set county meet 500 free record of 4:53.61

Favorite athlete: Shaun White

Favorite movie: "The Rocker"

Favorite music group: Panic! at the Disco

Favorite food: Strawberries

Least favorite event: Breaststroke

Coach Chris Davis' comment: "She loves to race people, that's one of her best traits. And she excels as an artist as much as swimming. She can do great caricatures. She's every bit as gifted an artist as she is a swimmer."

Who: Meghan Faulkner

School: Brookwood

Class: Sophomore

Noteworthy:

· Third at state in 100 freestyle

· County runner-up in 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley

Favorite athlete: Matt Grevers

Favorite movie: "Goodfellas"

Favorite music group: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Favorite food: Fettucine alfredo pasta

Least favorite event: Backstroke

Coach Greg Puckett's comment: "Prior to her freshman season last year I had heard many good things about her potential. I'm always concerned though about the possibility of a good freshman swimmer being overwhelmed and intimidated by the fact that they have to compete against individuals who may be 3 or 4 years older than they are. It turned out that my concerns were unfounded for her because she actually seemed to thrive on the competition. I quickly discovered that she usually performed better when she had tough competition. Hopefully she can keep that tenacity and competitive drive this season and build on her freshman successes."

Who: Caroline Kenney

School: North Gwinnett

Class: Junior

Noteworthy:

· State, county champion in 200 freestyle

· Set county meet record in 200 free

· Third at state in 100 free

Favorite athlete: Katie Hoff

Favorite movie: "Iron Man"

Favorite music group: Shinedown

Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese

Least favorite event: Breaststroke

Coach Doug Nieman's comment: "Caroline is one of those kids that is special in that she is very talented athletically and academically. Her strongest asset is that Caroline loves to compete, in everything. She is one of our captains this year because of the example she sets in and out of the pool. Caroline doesn't let her success get to her head, she is friendly and warm to her teammates and is having fun as a teenager. The coaching staff is very proud to have her on the team."

Who: Jana Mangimelli

School: Brookwood

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· State, county champion in 200 individual medley

· County champion, state runner-up in 100 backstroke

· Set county meet record in 100 back

Favorite athlete: Knowshon Moreno

Favorite movie: "300"

Favorite music group: O.A.R.

Favorite food: Shrimp

Least favorite event: 1,650 freestyle

Coach Greg Puckett's comment: "Jana has always been a very good swimmer but this past year she really picked it up a notch and brought her performances to a whole new level. Her performances set many Brookwood and county records. At the state meet her performance was especially impressive, top-10 times in the history of the state meet. Hopefully she can build and improve on those performances for the upcoming season."

Who: Haley Staubach

School: Parkview

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· Sixth at state, fourth at county in 100 butterfly

· Seventh at state, second at county in 100 backstroke

Favorite athlete: Eric Shanteau

Favorite movie: "Baby Mama"

Favorite music artist: Jack Johnson

Favorite food: Mangos

Least favorite event: Backstroke

Coach Jack Gayle's comment: "Haley's dedication to her sport is an example to all of our swimmers."

Who: Allyson Sweeney

School: Brookwood

Class: Senior

Noteworthy:

· State champion in 100 freestyle

· Third at state in 200 free

Favorite athletes: Jeff Samardzija, Brady Quinn

Favorite movie: "The Departed"

Favorite music groups: The Beatles, Coldplay

Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies

Least favorite event: 500 free

Coach Greg Puckett's take: "As a transfer from Texas last year she initially found the transition a little frustrating when she wasn't performing up to the high standard she had been prior to the move. Fortunately she was patient and it all came together for her at the state meet last year. Since then she has continued to work hard and progress so I fully expect her to have a fantastic senior season and really surprise some people this year with her phenomenal times."