MORGANTOWN - When her prep swimming career came to a close Friday, Kelsey Ferguson let the emotions flow.
Like most seniors, the realization that a memorable part of life was over hit the Weir standout like a ton of bricks.
Moments after capturing her second of two individual titles on the day at the West Virginia state championships, Ferguson embraced in a long group hug with some of her teammates.
Weir’s Kelsey Feguson emerged as a state champion in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
As the tears trickled to the floor along with remaining water from their uniforms, Ferguson's mother and coach - Donna - looked on just a few feet away at the West Virginia University Natatorium.
She, too, felt the emotion of the moment.
''The whole two days (of the tournament) have been phenomenal,'' she said. ''I can't even describe it.
''To watch Kelsey swim is a testament to how strong and dedicated she is.''
The laps to a state championship have been long and sometimes rocky for Kelsey Ferguson. In fact, the summer prior to her junior year, her career in the water was in serious jeopardy.
She spent much of the summer of 2010 in the hospital after being diagnosed with chronic osteomyelistis, an established bone infection.
While in the hospital, doctors scraped out bone from Kelsey Ferguson's leg. They also had to insert a rod and three screws in it.
It was a challenging time, but Kelsey worked her way back and earned a state meet berth in 2011. There, she posted a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
Friday, the Red Rider broke through, winning both events to complete her comeback.
''It feels great,'' said Kelsey Ferguson, who tied Nitro's Megan Clemens for the most points in the meet. ''It was awesome to start my last state meet (with a state championship).''
''My goal was to get under 30 (seconds) (in first split) and I knew if I did that I could keep going the whole race like that.
''I felt a lot better than I did during the prelims. I felt a lot more relaxed and a lot more prepared.''
Kelsey Ferguson shaved almost 3 seconds off her time from a year ago (in the 200 IM (2:10.91). And in the other victory, her time was a little more than a second faster than 2011 (1:07.72).
''She's been very business-like,'' Donna Ferguson said of her daughter's approach to this season.
''She knew she had a mission and she knew the freshmen coming in were strong.
''From the first day of the season she had a plan and stuck with it.
Kelsey Ferguson said extra time in the gym and in the pool helped her get back in the pool following her surgery.
''My goal wasn't so much to win as it was to get back in the water and start training again and get back to where I know I can be.''
Not only were Kelsey Ferguson's teammates supporting her, but the entire Ohio Valley swimming family, as well.
''It's been so nice because the community has been so supporting, especially after what she went through,'' Donna Ferguson said. ''Everyone along the pool was pulling for her (Friday) just as much as I was.
''It was just a wonderful experience.''