The Bolles School’s Janelle Atkinson electrified the crowd at the Florida 4A Girls Swimming Championships on November 18, when she came within a whisker of breaking Janet Evans’ “unbreakable” national high school record in the 500 yard freestyle. Atkinson, 17, clocked 4:37.91 for the 20-lap race, second only to Evans’ 4:37.30 set in 1988, the year she went on to win three individual Olympic gold medals.
Atkinson, who will represent Jamaica in the 2000 Games in Sydney, split 54.14, 1:50.84 (56.70), 2:47.10 (56.26), 3:43.53 (56.43) and 4:37.91 (54.38).
In the 200 free, Atkinson swam a state 4A record of 1:47.15, just missing Nancy Marley’s national prep mark of 1:46.63 set in 1987. The national high school record stands at 1:45.98, set in 1982 by Cynthia Woodhead.
Atkinson also swam the leadoff leg on Bolles’ 400 free relay, which swam the second fastest time in high school history, 3:24.82. The team consisted of Atkinson (51.00), Jenna Bridges (50.96), Jenna Street (51.52), and Melissa Deary (51.34). In 1996 a Bolles squad set the national mark of 3:24.08.
Gulliver Prep’s Christina Swindle was the only non-Bolles swimmer to set a state record at the meet. Swindle, a freshman, stroked the 50 free in a burning 23.15, well under the 4A record of 23.48 set by Casey Legler in 1994.
Bolles won the team title easily with 550 points.