For much of his life, Cuyahoga Falls' senior Landon Alderman was not the type of person who felt comfortable in the water.

He sure does now.

Alderman was one of four Black Tiger swimmers to advance to the Division I state meet, which was scheduled to conclude Feb. 23 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. Results were not available at press time.

Alderman and fellow seniors Andrew Appleby and Ryan Hillyer joined sophomore Will Turnbull on the 200-yard medley relay team that finished fifth at a district meet, which concluded Feb. 16 at Cleveland State University's Robert F. Busbey Natatorium.

That unit finished with a school-record time of 1 minute, 39.14 seconds. Appleby also advanced in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle races.

While Appleby, Hillyer and Turnbull have been established swimmers, Alderman was a bit of an unknown heading into the season.

Not anymore.

"Four months ago, Landon didn't know how to swim," Falls head coach Mike McDonald said. "The guys worked with him and when he came to the district meet, other coaches were asking, 'Who's that? Is he a transfer?'"

Alderdman swam the breastroke leg of the relay in 30.21 seconds.

Hillyer was the anchor on the relay swimming freestyle.

"Ryan will give you anything and everything for his teammates," McDonald said.

Appleby, who was the Black Tigers' lone state qualifier last year, led off the relay in backstroke leg.

"Andrew swam a lights out 22.9 split," McDonald said. "That's the fastest time in district history and I know that's the fastest time in the state this year."

Like Appleby, Turnbull was a blur on the relay swimming the butterfly leg.

"Will had an unbelievable meet," McDonald said. "He swam a 25.2 split. All those guys had great, fast splits. They broke a 20-year old record and they are the first Falls' boys relay team to make it to state in 13 years."

Appleby also was seeking some individual glory in Canton.

He won the 100 backstroke (50.1) and placed second in the 100 freestyle (46.04). Future Ohio State teammate Mark Belanger won the 100 freestyle in 45.61.

Appleby placed third in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 100 backstroke at the 2012 state meet.

"Win or lose, Andrew told me Mark is going to be my teammate," McDonald said. "They're great friends and they always have great races.

"Andrew was a little disappointed in his time in the 100, Last year, we rested him before districts. This year, we didn't rest him at all."

Hillyer just missed advancing to the state meet in the 50 freestyle. He placed eighth with a time of 21.78.

"Ryan missed by .07," McDonald said. "He was shocked and frustrated for about five seconds and then he turned his attention to the medley relay."

Hillyer also placed ninth in the 100 freestyle (48.14).

Turnbull placed 11th in the 100 butterfly (56.1) and 19th in the 100 backstroke (58.11).

"Will had two lifetime bests," McDonald said. "He scored for us in the 100 fly."

The 400 freestyle relay team of Turnbull, Hillyer, senior Austin Crawford and Appleby placed seventh (3:19.27). Crawford also placed 24th in the diving competition with 136.55 points.

As a result of these performances, the Black Tigers placed sixth out of 31 teams with 115 points. Hudson won the competition with 297 points.

"That's the highest place for Falls at this district in 20 to 25 years," McDonald said.


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