The state high school meet didn't always equate to great individual memories for Jana Mangimelli.
Brookwood's standout swimmer got off to a rough start in her first state meet, struggling with to just a 14th-place finish in the 200 individual medley. She expected more after third- and fourth-place finishes at the county meet.
"Freshman year I was horrible (at state)," said Mangimelli, now a senior and the Daily Post's girls swimmer of the year for the second straight season. "I was just not at that level yet. I was and I wasn't. ... I had been swimming my entire life and I got to high school state and it was a completely different level of intensity and energy.
"Everything revolved around the team and I'd never done that before. But I love it now."
Mangimelli didn't immediately make amends at the state meet. Although she was a top qualifier, she missed state completely her sophomore season for undisclosed reasons.
But she returned on a mission her final two seasons, winning state championships in the 200 individual medley both years and placing second twice in the 100 backstroke. She holds county records in both races.
She also was valuable on two Bronco relays that won state titles with state-record times. Her 100 free anchor leg at state was 50.78 seconds, the third-fastest split at the state meet.
And freestyle isn't even her main strength. But Mangimelli has a lot of strengths, which is what made her so valuable to the Broncos over the past few seasons.
"Jana is probably the most versatile swimmer ever at Brookwood," Brookwood coach Greg Puckett said. "She can really excel at pretty much every event. She obviously has some events that she is a little bit better at but if necessary I would feel comfortable putting her in pretty much any event."
Mangimelli said she had to work hard on her breaststroke, which used to be her main weakness. Her best is probably her backstroke, although the versatility of being strong at every stroke makes her strong in the IM races, where she likely will make the quickest impact at Georgia.
She dominated the 200 IM at high school state with a time of 1 minute, 58.15 seconds, which just missed her goal of 1:57.41, the state record set by Olympian Kathleen Hersey.
"I like swimming all the events," Mangimelli said. "I guess the best part is being able to race anybody, anytime, anywhere."
Mangimelli and her Brookwood teammates raced hard at the state meet, but fell just shy of a coveted team championship. The Broncos placed a close second to Lassiter for the second straight season.
"We really came together during state," she said. "We couldn't get a victory out of it, but it still felt really good. We did really well. I love those girls. I'll always remember them."
Unlike her experience as an underclassmen, these state memories are worth cherishing.
SideBar: ALL-COUNTY GIRLS
2009 Gwinnett Daily Post
All-County Swimming and Diving Team
Girls Swimmer/Diver of the Year: Jana Mangimelli, Brookwood, Sr.
State champion in 200 IM, runner-up in 100 back, county champion in both, county meet record in 100 back
Boys/Girls Coach of the Year: Greg Puckett, Brookwood
Led boys team to second straight Class AAAAA state title, girls took second
Elizabeth Charter, Parkview, Sr.
Third at state in 100 fly, sixth at state in 50 free
Sommers Creed, Mill Creek, Soph.
Second at state, county champ in 500 free, fourth at state in 200 free
Rachael Dudley, Mill Creek, Fr.
County champ in 100 fly, sixth at state in 500 free
Meghan Faulkner, Brookwood, Soph.
Fourth at state in 100 free, county runner-up in 100 free, 100 breast
Kelsey Gouge, Brookwood, Fr.
Fourth at state, county champ in 50 free
Lauren Hall, Wesleyan, Fr.
State diving champion with state's highest score - 511.80
Haley Holcombe, Brookwood, Sr.
Fourth at state in 100 fly
Caroline Kenney, North Gwinnett, Jr.
State, county champion in 100, 200 free
Anna Springer, Brookwood, Jr.
Fourth at state, county champion in 100 breast
Haley Staubach, Parkview, Sr.
Fourth at state, county runner-up in 100 back
Allyson Sweeney, Brookwood, Sr.
State champion in 100 fly, third at state in 200 free