New swimmers dive into swimming season

Sophomore+Megan+Ingold+swims+the+100+meter+backstroke+event.+The+women%27s+team+lost+39-131.

Sydney Setree

Sophomore Megan Ingold swims the 100 meter backstroke event. The women’s team lost 39-131.

Swimming has splashed into its season with a practice meet against Mount de Sales on Nov. 20. The women’s team lost 39-131. Like scrimmages, practice meets give new swimmers the chance to experience a high school meet without all the pressure.

According to men’s and women’s swimming coach Larry Dukes, the exact number of swimmers is still fluctuating, but it is balanced between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This year, the women’s team has their regular number of swimmers at over 30. The men’s team has increased to 10-15 boys, which is significantly more than last year.

“We have more boys than ever this year, and we almost got the whole men’s cross country team so that’s kind of funny,” senior swimmer William Du said.

According to Dukes, most of the new men’s swimmers don’t have much experience but do play other sports, so they are “able to adapt.”

“We are all looking forward to improving to the best of our abilities and swimming out this season as champions in a foreign sport to most of us,” sophomore Rob Flynn said. Flynn is one of this year’s new men’s team swimmers.
No JV teams exist in either conference, so all swimmers are on varsity. Each meet has 11 events: three relays and eight individual events.

Each event consists of multiple heats, but only one actually counts and give the official score. Other heats are still timed and allow coaches to strategize according to which swimmers are strongest in which events. In a heat, the six lanes of the pool are divided into three per team.

Swimming is also co-ed. “It’s one of the few sports that is co-ed, [which] makes the swim team more unified and makes us a better team as a whole to have more guys being a part of it. I think the girls appreciate all the guys’ positive encouragement this year,” junior Amanda Brannan said.

Practices started Nov. 12. “Every workout is a build-up,” Dukes said. “Distances of every practice increase over the course of the season.” Initially, the workouts are 2,500 meter swims, but by mid-season they will increase to 5,000 meters. The longest event at a meet is 500 yards.

“At the beginning, we focus more on the kick and the kicking base and less on the stroke,” Dukes said. Practices are geared toward structure and mechanics before Christmas break and move into stroke and form after the break.
The meets throughout the season are “markers for the championship,” according to Dukes, because they give teams a season record, but every team competes in the championship regardless of that record.

There are typically 6-8 meets in a season, clustered before exams in December and after break in January. This year, the women’s championship is Feb. 1 at McDonogh, and the men’s championship is Feb. 5 at Calvert Hall.

“We’ve been runner-up for girls for five straight years,” Dukes said. “We are always projected for top four and end up in second.” Out of the other seven teams in the women’s league, Severn is their most challenging opponent.

The men’s league has 10 teams total. “[We’re] often picked to finish last [but] generally finish in the middle,” Dukes said. “It’s hard to compete against the teams with so much inexperience [on our part.]”

According to sophomore swimmer Katie Sullivan, “we have a good group of people this year, and I think everyone will improve from last year.”

The next meet is the Relay Carnival at Magnolia Middle School on Dec. 13.

Kathy Deaver is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.