Next stop for Lake Norman’s Desirae Mangaoang: Texas A&M.

She’ll swim for the Aggies. The senior moves on with some nice parting gifts in tow.

At the top of that list is a third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke during the 4A state championship meet in February.

“That’s one of the things that stood out most about this season, finally getting up to that top three at states,” she said. “I was getting fourth and fifth the years before. But (the season) was more about having fun before I leave.”

It’s easier to have fun when you’re performing well, and the R&L County Girls Swimmer of the Year certainly had plenty to be proud of.

Mangaoang captured the 4A West region championship in the 100 breaststroke after completing the race in 1 minute, 3.36 seconds.

At the state meet, Mangaoang clocked in at 1:02.18. Hough’s Grace Rainey, who finished third at the West regional, captured the title with a time of 1:01.31.

“I’m pretty happy about it though,” said Mangaoang, who holds national records in the several breaststroke distances in the Philippines, where her parents were born and where she also holds citizenship.

“It was a close race.”

Altogether, Mangaoang factored into four top-10s at the state meet. She placed 10th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:06.24), two positions back of where she finished in the regional meet.

Mangaoang helped the Wildcats’ 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay teams to fourth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively. They were second and third at regionals.

Surprisingly, the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American was not named to the I-Meck Conference all-conference swim team.

She swam in league meets throughout the season but missed the I-Meck championships because of a conflicting engagement with her SwimMAC club team.

Mangaoang didn’t seem bothered by being left off the list of conference honorees.

“I did miss one of the biggest meets so I kind of understand,” she said. “I did get (all-conference) one year so it doesn’t really matter.”

Mangaoang reports to Texas A&M this fall. She’s trying as best as she can to maintain competitive form and fitness.

That’s difficult, though, when the COVID-19 pandemic has forced pools to close. She said she’s done what she can as far as dry land workouts.

The unfortunate circumstances haven’t dampened her spirits in advance of going to College Station, Texas.

“I’m really excited but also kind of scared,” she said. “It’s different practices, different coaches. At the same time, it will be nice to have a different perspective.”

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