She settled for second place in two individual events at last year's swimming state championships. She is ranked No. 1 in both events this year -- and she's confident she belongs there.
But Josie Cuda isn't concerned with individual honors.
As Saturday's state championship meet draws near, Cuda has her mind on one thing -- helping the Hilton Head High girls team earn its first SC High School League Swimming Championship since 2005.
"I definitely feel that we're the team to beat," Cuda said. "We're excited about our chances, and we're going to feed off that energy."
On paper, Cuda appears to be correct. The Seahawks took third place a year ago, but Class 3-A state champion Riverside and runner-up JL Mann both moved up to Class 4-A this fall.
Hilton Head High has a strong core with Cuda, Cassie Ley, Camille Felix and Mary Bolgan -- all of who are ranked in the top six in multiple events -- but it is the team's depth that has coach Jack Maddan most optimistic about the Seahawks' chances Saturday.
The Class 3-A meet is slated to start at 5:35 p.m. Class 4-A will start at 12:05 p.m. Both will take place at the Carolina Natatorium on South Carolina's campus in Columbia.
"I think we have enough (depth) to make it happen," Maddan said. "And most importantly, we have some very strong relay teams, which score double the points. I think that's where we're going to score some points and gain some ground on teams."
Bluffton High School's boys team is nearly as optimistic as it prepares for the state meet. Coach Eric Kemeny said his boys team is shooting for a top-three finish this weekend, while the girls team, which took sixth a year ago, will aim for a second consecutive top-10 finish.
"I think the key for the boys is going to be our 200 freestyle relay," Kemeny said. "That's not our strongest relay of the three, but those kids have to swim well in order to make it happen for the team."
The Bobcats are led by standout senior Robbie Skinner, who is in search of his first state gold medal to cap his high school career after a pair of second-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke the past two seasons. Skinner is ranked No. 1 in the event, as well as the 100 freestyle.
"If I can get the gold at state, it would be an awesome thing to do," Skinner said. "... I'm definitely striving for it. That's important to me."
Skinner's biggest competition in the 100 freestyle will come from Ryan Ley of Hilton Head High, who is ranked second in the event and first in the 200 freestyle.
Beaufort High School will send one swimmer to the Class 4-A meet. David Avard is ranked 27th in the 200 individual medley.
2010 SCHSL SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Where: USC Natatorium, Columbia
When: Saturday; Class 4-A begins at 12:05 p.m., Class 3-A begins at 5:35 p.m.
Girls 200 medley relay -- 4. Hilton Head High (Lilla Felix, Makenna Reeder, Amelia Rzeczycki, Camille Felix) 1:57.00; 12. Bluffton (Ali Shaw, Caitlin O'Brien, Danielle Faciszewski, Lauren Anderson) 2:05.22.
Boys 200 medley relay -- 3. Bluffton (Jake Minasi, Robbie Skinner, Sebastian Bedon, Andrew Faciszewski), 1:47.33; 14. Hilton Head High (Alex Reamy, Silas Buck, Austin McLoud, Brandon Johnson), 1:56.90.
Girls 200 freestyle -- 1. Josie Cuda, HHH, 1:54.57; 2. Camille Felix, HHH, 1:59.25; 3. Mary Bolgan, HHH, 2:01.67; 5. Skye Reeder, HHH, 2:03.47; 15. Alexandra Shaw, Bluff., 2:08.71; 17. Ashleigh Pangilinan, Bluff., 2:11.25.
Boys 200 freestyle -- 1. Ryan Ley, HHH, 1:49.66; 4. Andrew Faciszewski, Bluff., 1:52.06; 26. Patrick Calvo, Bluff., 2:07.35
Girls 200 individual medley -- 3. Cassie Ley, HHH, 2:13.74; 5. Lilla Felix, HHH, 2:16.56; 6. Amelia Rzeczycki, HHH, 2:18.38; 21. Reed Penale, HHH, 2:32.25.
Boys 200 individual medley -- 7. Sebastian Bedon, Bluff., 2:09.68; 13. John Evans, Bluff., 2:21.97; 16. Ryan Naddy, HHH, 2:23.65; 27. David Avard, Beau., 2:20.33 (Class 4-A).
Girls 50 freestyle -- 9. Madison Wall, Bluff., 25.86, 31. Ashley Ijames, Bluff., 27.81.
Boys 50 freestyle -- 26. Drew O'Brien, Bluff., 25.06.
Girls 100 butterfly -- 1. Josie Cuda, HHH, 59.00; 3. Madison Wall, Bluff., 1:01.66; 13. Amelia Rzeczycki, HHH, 1:04.79; 18. Madison Field, HHH, 1:06.76; 21. Reed Penale, HHH, 1:07.84.
Boys 100 butterfly -- 3. Sebastian Bedon, Bluff., 57.16; 10. James Hammond, HHH, 1:01.55.
Girls 100 freestyle -- 1. Cassie Ley, HHH, 55.25; 9. Makenna Reeder, HHH, 58.06; 28. Madison Field, HHH, 1:00.73.
Boys 100 freestyle -- 1. Robbie Skinner, Bluff., 49.49; 2. Ryan Ley, HHH, 49.75.
Girls 500 freestyle -- 2. Camille Felix, HHH, 5:16.50; 5. Skye Reeder, HHH, 5:26.31; 6. Mary Bolgan, HHH, 5:26.94; 9. Carolina Vaniska, HHH, 5:36.13; 12. Danielle Faciszewski, Bluff., 5:38.79; 16. Ashleigh Pangilinan, Bluff., 5:53.25.
Boys 500 freestyle -- 3. Andrew Faciszewski, Bluff., 5:01.33; 10. James Hammond, HHH, 5:15.31; 12. Jake Minasi, Bluff., 5:15.72; 20. Alex Reamy, HHH, 5:40.46; 28. Patrick Calvo, Bluff., 5:45.44; 29. David Funk, Bluff., 5:46.94.
Girls 200 free relay -- 2. Hilton Head High (Josie Cuda, Cassie Ley, Skye Reeder, Amelia Rzeczycki), 1:45.25; 7. Bluffton (Ashleigh Pangilinan, Ali Shaw, Ashley Ijames, Madison Wall), 1:49.06.
Boys 200 free relay -- 4. Bluffton (John Evans, Drew O'Brien, Harrison Dickson, Patrick Calbo), 1:36.97; 13. Hilton Head High (Ryan Ley, Jack Felix, James Hammond, Ryan Naddy), 1:42.91.
Girls 100 backstroke -- 6. Lilla Felix, HHH, 1:02.81; 7. Makenna Reeder, HHH, 1:03.31; 21. Alexandra Shaw, Bluff., 1:09.19.
Boys 100 backstroke -- 1. Robbie Skinner, Bluff., 56.13; 11. Jake Minasi, Bluff., 1:01.43.
Girls 100 breaststroke -- No local swimmers.
Boys 100 breaststroke -- 16. Ryan Naddy, HHH, 1:13.22; 21. John Evans, Bluff., 1:14.07.
Girls 400 free relay -- 1. Hilton Head High (Josie Cuda, Cassie Ley, Skye Reeder, Makenna Reeder), 3:46.40; 7. Bluffton (Ashleigh Pangilinan, Danielle Faciszewski , Ashley Ijames, Madison Wall), 4:03.18.
Boys 400 free relay -- 4. Bluffton (Andrew Faciszewski, Sebastian Bedon, Jake Minasi, Robbie Skinner), 3:33.47; 12. Hilton Head High (Ryan Ley, Jack Felix, James Hammond, Ryan Naddy), 3:48.50.