It was only a fraction of a second.
The difference between the time required to qualify for the state meet and Elk Grove senior Carl Sugihara's time in the 50-yard freestyle at the Glenbrook North sectional on Saturday was so minute it could have fit on the edge of a dime.
Sugihara touched the wall in 22.11 seconds in the event, but needed a time of 22.07 to advance to the state meet.
To make things more agonizing, it was the third consecutive year Sugihara had just missed out on making it to the state meet in that event.
Just two events later, though, in the 100-yard freestyle, Sugihara had a final chance to achieve his goal of appearing in the state meet for the first time in his high school career.
"It could've been my last individual race," Sugihara said. "I just wanted to put everything into it. 110 percent."
This time, the tenths of seconds were on Sugihara's side as he finished the race with a time of 48.11 seconds, just under the 48.43 seconds required to advance.
"When I finished, I looked at the time and I was so happy," Sugihara said.
Sugihara's story provides an example of just how close Saturday's sectional was. Loyola Academy took the sectional championship by just half a point over Glenbrook South -- 216.5 to 216.
It took a pool record time of 3:10.41 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final event of the afternoon, from Loyola's team of Justin Pasquesi, Brendan Hulseman, Patrick Rahill and Andrew Jovanovic, for the Ramblers to edge out the Titans and earn their third consecutive sectional championship.
"I've got to admit I'm a little surprised at how fast they went," Loyola coach Dennis Stonequist said. "But we never really put our best four together all year long. That was the first time we did. They could be pretty good. None of them had suits on. None of them had caps. I think they could go a lot faster. That's a good relay."
There was a second pool record set on Saturday, and it was also achieved by Jovanovic. He swam the 100 butterfly in 50.79 seconds to break the 51.37 held by Glenbrook South's Andrew Schmitt.
"I knew the guy who had the pool record. I loved him," Jovanovic said. "I wasn't trying to go after it at all. It just kind of happened. I'm really happy with how the race came out."
In the 100 breaststroke, Maine West sophomore Brian Wasicak was able to win the sectional and qualify for the state meet with a time of 1:00.63.
Wasicak qualified for the state meet automatically by finishing in first place, but his time would have been good enough to qualify regardless of his placement.
"It reinforces my stance on the state meet," Wasicak said. "Rather than just going because I won, I feel like I deserve it more because I made the cut and I won."