LAURINBURG – On Wednesday evening, Richmond Senior High School’s boys and girls swimming teams travelled back to O’Herron Pool on the campus of St. Andrews University for their third Sandhills Athletic Conference meet of the season.
With six of the conference’s eight schools participating in their very first season of swimming, much of the focus has shifted toward improving each week rather than winning events.
“What’s great about it is that these kids can see their own growth,” said Terry Cooper, head swimming coach at St. Andrews University. “They race to beat their own best times. Many of these kids are athletes from other sports who have no real swimming experience – they are trying to get better each week.”
Cooper understands that many athletes can transition from one sport to the other, but feels that athletes have a difficult time picking up swimming.
“It’s the water,” Cooper explained. “You are used to walking, running, and doing about everything else outside of the water. It takes athletes a while to reach a comfort level (in the water).
“There is a big learning curve in the beginning,” Cooper continued. “Swimming is not something people just do. Good swimmers practice all year round and good practice habits take a long time to cultivate – especially in areas where pools are not as accessible. (They need to) work hard and improve.”
Coach Mike Way’s Raiders and Lady Raiders have worked hard to become better swimmers and to reduce the number of disqualifications. As a result, several Richmond swimmers showed some time improvements in various events.
Senior Altman Griffin cut an impressive 13 seconds off of her time in the 200-yard Freestyle. Last week, she clocked in at 3:15.11, but finished with a time of 3:01.84 on Wednesday. She also trimmed down her 100-yard Freestyle time from 1:22.27 to 1:16.38.
In the 500-yard Freestyle, junior Jenna Kubiak pushed her time down 10 seconds in the meet’s most grueling event. Last week she finished with a time of 9:47.89, but managed a 9:37.13 in this week’s meet. Senior Jimmy Cooley cut his 100-yard Fly time down a second from 1:17.85 to 1:16.72.
There was no better example to demonstrate the importance of reducing disqualifications than in the night’s very first event. Richmond’s Natalie Davis, Kathleen Pittman, Makenzie Webb and Greyson Way won the 200-yard Medley Relay with a time of 2:43.46. In the event, teams from Hoke, Jack Britt, Lumberton, Pinecrest, and Scotland high schools all DQ’d. Jack Britt was penalized for swimming out of order, and the rest were tagged for stroke infractions.
Nobody expected the new teams to be very competitive with Pinecrest and Jack Britt who have both have programs that have been competing in swimming for several years. However, the Lady Raiders are leading the pack among the new programs. They are currently third of six in the conference standings behind Pinecrest and Jack Britt, who are first and second respectively. The Raiders team is currently fifth out of six in the standings, only ahead of Purnell Swett.
Seventy-First and Hoke high schools are not included in the team standings since neither have a complete team.
This was the last meet of 2017. The Richmond swim teams will return to St. Andrews for the final conference meet of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.