Mike Terry, Deseret News
Hailey Pabst picks up another state title in the 500 yard women's freestyle at the 4A Swimming Championships at the Stephen L. Richards Building on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011. Mike Terry, Deseret News

PROVO — Mountain Crest swimmer Hailey Pabst is feeling fantastic.

The junior not only walked away with a first-place finish during the first day of the 4A state swim meet at BYU on Friday morning — she did so in record time.

“I really wanted to beat it,” Pabst said after winning the 50-yard freestyle race with a time of 23.73 seconds, just five-hundredths faster than the previous 4A record, set in 1995.

“The 50 is such a technical race that any little mistake could mess you up. I was just keeping my head down and trying to get my hand to the wall as fast as I could.”

Though Pabst was the only record-breaker on Day 1, she was not the only swimmer to provide late-race drama.

On the boys side, fourth-seeded 50-yard freestyle swimmer Regie Topham, a Herriman junior, dropped over half a second off his entry time to defeat favored Skyline senior David Amirkhanashvili.

“I’m just speechless,” Topham said. “I’ve tried and trained as hard as I could, trying to beat who got second place this whole year, and finally I was able to accomplish it.”

Topham finished the race in 22.22 seconds and Amirkhanashvili touched the wall in 22.24 seconds.

Other winners in the boys competition include John Morris, a Springville junior who cut nearly six seconds off his entry time to win the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:56.56. Mountain Crest senior William Watts finished first in the 200-yard freestyle just after swimming the butterfly leg of the Mustangs’ championship 200-yard medley relay swim. Watts won the former with a time of 1:41.04 and swam a 23.31 split in the latter.

“It feels good; right now I’m just thinking about the next race,” Watts said, who will also compete in the 500-yard freestyle today.

Mountain Crest's winning relay team was comprised of junior Porter Roe, senior Sean O’Very, Watts and senior Josh Burningham. It finished with a time of 1:38.81 and gained 40 points in the team competition, helping the Mustangs into a first-place tie after four events. Mountain Crest and Springville both have 122 points heading into Day 2 while defending champion Skyline is in third with 112 points.

“The kids have been doing really well and getting best times,” Mountain Crest coach Tom Williams said. “I think they’ve just got to keep doing what they’re doing and I’d be proud of them either way. Regardless of the outcome, they’ll do fantastic.”

By all accounts, Saturday's second — and decisive — day should be fantastic for spectators. On Day 1, Mountain Crest, the slight favorite coming into the meet, swam one point ahead of its projected total through four events. However, Springville swam 18 points ahead of its total in the same span, leaving the outcome very much in the balance heading into the remaining seven events.

In the girls team competition, Skyline jumped out to a commanding lead with 147 points, followed by Highland (94) and Olympus (70).

“The whole focus is being better at state — swimming well all season long and then turning it up. And they’ve done that,” said Skyline coach Joe Pereira. “Today we had some outstanding swims.”

Eagles junior Lillian Moore had a lot to do with her team’s early dominance, capturing the 200-yard individual medley title and swimming the butterfly leg of the 200-yard medley relay.

“Lillian has been a state champion since her freshmen year,” said Skyline coach Joe Pereira, “so you can never count her out.”

Moore’s time in the IM was 2:07.97, just over four seconds faster than her qualifying time.

“It wasn’t a perfect race for her, but she did what we had planned out: Go out, have some guts, see what kind of heart you have coming home,” Pereira said.

The coach added that he and Moore set a goal for her to beat the Skyline record in the 100-yard butterfly of 57.20 a year from now, but “she’s swimming so well, she could very well do that Saturday.”

The 100-yard butterfly is the first event taking place in the second day of the state swim meet.

The rest of the Skyline relay team included sophomore Ali Dibble, sophomore Dani Zabelean, Moore and freshman Claire Brooks. The group swam the race in 1:51.12.

Adding even more youth to the podium was Highland freshman Eva Gontrum, who won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:57.16. She also anchored the Rams' second-place medley relay team with a freestyle split time of 24.73 as her team touched the wall just after the Eagles with a time of 1:51.72.

Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: [email protected]