St. Joseph’s Clayton Black focused heading into senior season _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --St. Joseph's Clayton Black swims to a win in the Girls 500 Yard Freestyle during the Capital City Swim League Championships.

Records are made to be broken.

St. Joseph’s Academy senior swimmer Clayton Black broke a record that stood for 14 years when she won the Division I title in the 200-yard freestyle at the LHSAA State Swim Meet last season.

Her time of 1 minute, 49.19 seconds was an automatic All-American qualifying time. She beat the second-place finisher by more than two seconds.

Black has her sights set on the 200 freestyle composite record, set in 1991 at 1:48.92 by Ashley Tappin of St. Martin’s, who went on to swim in the Olympics.

“I like to set goals,” said Black, who has been a part of three straight Division I state title teams for the Redstickers. SJA has won four straight titles and 15 straight Capital City Swim League titles. “Once I achieve my goal, I set new ones.”

“When Clayton sets her mind to something, she can achieve it,” SJA coach Becca Barber said. “She’s had a wonderful career here. I could tell she would be a huge asset to the team as a freshman. She’s matured since then and figured out high school swimming.”

Barber said the 5-foot-7 Black has a strong focus to details. Her turns are smooth, and her kicks off the wall give her an edge.

“Clayton has all the technical things down,” Barber said.

“I do focus on staying underwater after my kicks off the wall,” Black said. “I just really enjoy swimming. It’s challenging and fun.”

Black, who was the Capital City Swim League’s All-Metro MVP last season, has been a year-round swimmer since age 8 with Tiger Aquatics. SJA senior swimmer Claire Charpentier is also in TAQ, and the two push each other in practice.

Charpentier was third in the Division I 200 freestyle (1:55.11) and 500 freestyle (5:14.31). Black was second in the 500 free in 5:01.69. The Division I record is 4:57.35 and is also within her reach. Black said she recently swam a 4:59.

Black also swam on Division I and composite record-setting relay teams in the 200 free (1:35.75) and 400 free (3:29.77). Charpentier was part of the 400 relay team. SJA held the previous marks.

“I love participating in relays,” Black said. “It’s fun cheering for your team and working together.”

Black said she’d like to swim in college. For now, she’s enjoying being one of 14 seniors on the SJA team. Her sister, Kirby Black, is a freshman backstroker, so that makes this season even more special.

Barber said SJA should have another strong team.

“We lost seven seniors from last year,” said Barber, a former SJA swimmer. “We’ve got a great group of seniors this year and a strong freshman group.

“Swimming has always been a popular sport at SJA. We do a lot of team bonding and have fun together.”