All-News4JAX girls swimming: Pool became place to shine for Annie Wohlgemuth

Ponte Vedra star found the sport out of necessity and never looked back

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Back-to-back in the back(stroke).

Our All News4JAX girls swimmer of the year, Annie Wohlgemuth took the road (or is it the pool) less traveled to make her mark.

While the world of high school swimming locally is usually dominated by athletes from Bolles, Wohlgemuth won her second state championship in the 100 backstroke swimming for Ponte Vedra.

“Going back-to-back is really cool and special for me to win individual state titles and also getting that automatic All-American and showing and setting the standard for the young teams that, ‘This is not what we expect of you, but we know you can do this,’” Wohlgemuth said.

Wohlgemuth is taking her talents to Georgia in the fall. It’s been an impressive ride considering where she started in her swimming career.

Plagued by joint issues in her knees and shoulders during elementary school, Wohlgemuth was constantly dealing with injuries.

“In PE class with the other kids, I would fall and my joint would pop out,” she said.

The options were to need physical therapy for the rest of her life or to find a sport that would strengthen the ligaments and tendons around the weak joints.

Around that time, her mother ran into her old youth pastor who also happened to be starting a swim program at a club near them.

“So I started swimming with her, coach Cynthia Dunbar,” Wohlgemuth said. “From there it was just kind of history.”

By the time she realized she had a talent for the sport, Wohlgemuth made the move to a new club, Planet Swim, with coach Gus Calado, a former swimmer for Brazil in international competitions.

But that early decision to use swimming to treat a physical ailment helped her carve a new path for herself.

“[Swimming] changed my life. But people really don’t understand that,” Wohlgemuth said. “Me and my family are super blessed for what the sport has provided, not only the opportunities for me but what it [has meant] in my life.”

All-News4JAX girls swimming team

First team

Athlete, School, Class

Ava Brinkman, Fleming Island, So.

State champ in diving with a 448.85 total, helping the Golden Eagles to a strong showing in the 3A state meet.

Rylie Darkatsh, Stanton, Jr.

She’s 3-for-3 so far in diving state championships and getting better. Darkatsh has boosted her scores each year, winning the 2A crown with a 430.85.

Charlotte Driesse, Nease, So.

State champ in the 200 IM (2:04.4). Third in the 3A state meet (51.58) in the 100 free. Swam lead leg of state runner-up 200 free relay team (1:36.42) and also swam lead leg of state champ 400 free relay team. Both of those relay teams earned All-American consideration.

Lila Higgo, Bolles, So.

Fourth in the 200 IM (2:02.14) in All-American consideration time. Swam anchor leg of state champ 200 free relay team and lead leg of state runner-up 400 free relay team. State runner-up in 100 back (54.39). Those latter three events earned automatic All-American honors.

Simany Lee, Bolles, Jr.

Finished fourth in 100 free in 1A state meet but turned her best time (50.42) in the prelims, earning All-American consideration. Fifth in 200 free (1:51.44). Swam lead leg of state champ 200 free relay team, which clocked All-American time of 1:32.82.

Maryn McDade, Fleming Island, Jr.

Back-to-back Class 3A state titles in the 50 free, including her best time of 23.07 in the final, earning automatic All-American status. Finished fourth in the 100 free at state.

Katherine Meyers-Labenz, Bolles, Jr.

Third in 50 free, although her best time (23.09) came in the prelims and earned automatic All-American honors. Sixth in the 100 back (55.4) and earned All-American consideration. Swam the second leg of state champ 200 free relay team and final leg of state runner-up 200 medley relay team, both earning automatic All-American honors.

Julia Murphy, Bolles, Jr.

Finished fourth in 1A state meet in the 50 free (23.46) and state runner-up in the 100 fly, although her best time (54.78) came in the prelims. She earned All-American consideration in both of those events. Swam third leg on state champ 200 free relay team.

Natalie Padgett, Nease, Sr.

State runner-up in 200 IM in 2:05.29. Took fifth in 100 fly. Swam second leg on both state champ 400 free relay team and state runner-up 200 free relay team, both of which posted All-American consideration times.

Ann Wohlgemuth, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

Swimmer of the year is returning first-team All-News4JAX selection. State champ in the 100 back after finishing runner-up a year ago, clocking an automatic All-American time of 54.4. State runner-up in the 100 fly with an All-American consideration time of 54.84. Swam lead leg of both the state champ 200 medley relay team and the champ 200 free relay team. Georgia signee.

Penelope Zarczynski, Ponte Vedra, So.

State runner-up in 50 free in All-American consideration time of 23.36. State champ in the 100 free in 51.19. Swam anchor leg of state champ 200 free relay team.

Second team

Swimmer, School, Class

Ella Chan, Bolles, So.

Olivia Copland, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

Jayla Covington, Atlantic Coast, So.

Alexiya Downer, Bolles, So.

Elisabeth Erlendsdottir, Bolles, Jr.

Aubrey Finn, Episcopal, Sr.

Sophie Fox, Ponte Vedra, Fr.

Rachel Howard, Bishop Kenny, Jr.

Neala Klein, Bolles, So.

Annabelle MacAdams, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

Olivia Moore, Nease, So.

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.