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Discovery Canyon’s Rachel Alexander competes in the diving event at the Lady Trojan Invitational at Fountain-Fort Carson High School. Photo by Tim Clark

A year ago, Rachel Alexander held the lead heading into the final handful of dives, only to see it all slip away.

Not so on Saturday.

The Discovery Canyon junior, with a little strategical assistance, learned from past mistakes to rally late and win the diving state title by coming through in the clutch.

“Last year, she came into the finals in first place, but she had used up all her good dives to get there,” Thunder diving coach Josh Kinney said. “Then, everybody passed her up and she finished fifth. This time, we had a new strategy do save the best ones for the end, and it definitely paid off.”

Alexander, the program’s first swimming and diving individual champion, ended the 11-dive meet with 424.90 points, 5.40 points ahead of the closest competitor.

“She needed 47 on the last dive, and she got 51,” Kinney said. “It was one of the best dives she’s ever done. I think her previous experiences at state helped her.”

Although Alexander was the only event champion, she wasn’t the only one to make waves among Pikes Peak region swimmers Saturday.

St. Mary’s junior Caitlin Cairns touched second in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly, while Fountain Valley senior Eliza Rhee had eighth-place efforts in the 50 free and 100 free.

Ava Giesbrecht, a senior at Discovery Canyon, was runner-up in the 500 freestyle who earlier placed fifth in the 200 free, and teammate Noel Clayton finished seventh and 10th in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, respectively.

Manitou Springs senior Sydney Dolloff-Holt placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

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