Jaclyn Shambaugh Staff writer @jaclynshambaugh

Cumberland County schools will send more than a dozen swimmers to Cary this week to compete in the NCHSAA championships.

The 3-A classification swims Thursday, and the 4-A competition is Saturday, both at the Triangle Aquatic Center. The 1-A and 2-A championships are Friday.

The highest hopes for a local swimmer to grab a medal rest with Gray’s Creek swimmer Zizhou Lu, who qualified for the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.

The junior won the 100 free race at the 3-A East Regional meet Saturday and finished second in the 50 free.

Zu finished fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 50 at last year’s state meet. He enters this year’s state final with the eighth-fastest seed time in the 100 and 12th-fastest in the 50.

Zu also helped send a pair of the Bears’ relay teams to state, heading up the boys’ 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Bears coach Rick Kaiser said that along with sharpening his skills and getting stronger, Zu has matured into a team leader.

“Last year, coming in from Texas, he was a strong swimmer, and we had some average swimmers,” Kaiser said. “He’s really helped his teammates get stronger.

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