FORT LAUDERDALE, November 23. RHI Jeffrey broke the oldest high school record in the book tonight while swimming at the Florida 2A state championships at the International Swimming Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex in Fort Lauderdale.
Jeffrey, a senior at Atlantic High who was featured in the November issue of Swimming World, erased Woodhead'sa 1982 record of 1:45.98 for the 200 yard freestyle before a wildly-cheering crowd.
As soon as she hit the pads, she turned toward the scoreboard and immediately flashed a disbelieving smile as the announcer told the crowd her winning time of 1:45.49.
"I don't think it's really going to hit her until she reads the accomplishments of Woodhead," said Scott Barlow, Jeffrey's Aquacrest U. S. Swimming club coach in Delray Beach. "This is one more notch for her heading toward the Olympic Trials."
Woodhead, who won a silver medal in the 200 freestyle at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, set 27 American records and seven world records during her storied career and undoubtedly would have done even more had the US not boycotted the 1980 Olympics.
"I was overwhelmed," Jeffrey said after her race, "but I pretty much felt I was going to do it when I stepped onto the blocks. I just had a feeling, but I had no idea I was going to go that fast. It's the best feeling in the world. This is incredible. On a scale of one-to 10, it's probably an 11."
But Jeffrey wasn't finished. She still had the 100 free left to swim and the crowd sensed another record.
The Atlantic star touched in 48.73, breaking the record that Christina Swindle of Gulliver Prep had set only 24 hours earlier at the Class A state meet. Swindle, in turn, had destroyed her own national interschiolastic record of 49.33 that had stood for two years. But Jeffrey's time was 14-hundredths of a second shy of the national record that Kara Lynn Joyce set today at the Michigan state high school championships.
Before this weekend, no high school girl had ever broken 49 seconds in the 100. In the space of 24 hours, three different girls accomplished the feat in three separate meets.
Jeffrey said her effort in the 200-yard freestyle might have cost her a bit in her shot at the 100 yard mark.
"She blew the doors out on that last 50 (yards) of the 200," Barlow said. "We've centered her focus on these records, and I felt it could be done. She gets more nervous for this than she does for national meets because her family and peers are all here.
"She's been on pins and needles all day, with what the girl from Michigan and Swindle did. It was like a gambling game. Everyone kept raising the ante. Breaking Sippy's record throws her name out there now."