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Cleburne High's Averi Coates competes in state swim meet

Feb. 24—After watching her two older siblings compete at the state level, Cleburne High School swimmer Averi Coates now gets the chance to compete herself — and only as a sophomore.

"From the time I was a little kid I have grown up at the pool, watching and practicing with my older siblings," she said. "Each year I went to state to watch my siblings swim. Now it is my turn, and I can't wait to have them in the stands cheering me on."

Head Coach Ciro Salazar said he is proud of the hard work Averi put in to reach the state level.

"Having a sophomore competing at state this year feels incredibly rewarding," he said. "It's no surprise considering her dedication since eighth grade. Averi's remarkable work ethic, coachability and attitude have been evident from the start."

Having the opportunity to coach Averi has been a unique experience, he said, especially considering she and her older siblings both made it to state.

"While I didn't coach her older siblings, I vividly remember her siblings Kambree and Jaxon participating in the relays, and Jaxon's support for his younger siblings is admirable," Salazar said.

Averi qualified for the state meet after finishing 12th in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 5A regionals earlier this month. It was her second time competing at regionals.

"I have dropped time throughout this year, and I had a goal of getting a 1:10 in my 100 breaststroke," she said. "I finally achieved this and broke 1:10, going at 1:09.09, which I am incredibly happy with!"

Salazar gave credit to several people who helped Coates reach this accomplishment.

"Helping Averi reach state wasn't solely my effort or Coach Shelton, I have to say her parents, great community members like Coach Jim Abt and Dr. Harman have been instrumental in her journey," he said.

Since she's just a sophomore, Averi said she's excited to see how she can continue improving each year and looks forward to hopefully reaching state again.

"I am beyond excited to have this experience as a sophomore," she said. "Being able to participate with higher level athletes at state will assist me in making new goals for next year. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in the next two years.

"I would also like to thank the coaches and swimmers who have supported me."

Averi competed in prelims on Friday morning, and state finals are today at The University of Texas at Austin.