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HHS, TMP swimmers start season

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Hays High School and Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' swimming teams will get their feet wet in their first meet of the year Thursday.

The Indians and Monarchs will head to Salina South to compete in a six-team meet before going on Spring Break next week.

Hays High returned the bulk of its squad from last season.

There are 19 returners (eight seniors) and only six newcomers. The Indians also brought back its only state qualifier from last season, senior Courtney Hess, who finished 24th in the 200-yard freestyle at the Class 5-1A state meet.

Hays High head coach Ann Adams said Hess will serve a utility role as a swimmer this season.

"She's very versatile," Adams said. "She can sprint, and do all four strokes and go the distance. She has quite a bit of stamina."

The Indians boys just completed a successful winter season, sending 12 entries to the state meet. Adams said the girls are hoping to replicate some of that success.

"Several girls have told me they want to go to state this year, and I've said absolutely," Adams said. "Let's work on it."

Adams said she's noticed her swimmers have come in with a better base of training than they did last season, which is encouraging.

"There's not a whole lot of loss as far as condition and speed," she said. "These girls have been working out."

The Indians also have a new assistant coach: Kaitlyn Paul.

Paul has experience coaching the local club, the Hays Hurricanes, as well as her club from Salina. Paul is a Salina South graduate.

"It's working out well," Adams said. "She's looking forward to the meet on Thursday so she can bring her girls to her old pool."

TMP has eight swimmers on the team this season, but only three competed on the team last season: Maria Marcotte, Chloe Zimmerman and Rebecca Channell.

Channell's sister Elizabeth, a former state qualifier, was the Monarchs' top swimmer last season, but she graduated.

Elizabeth, a Fort Hays State University student, will be missed, but second-year TMP head coach David Adams pointed out its not like she's out of town.

"I see her every once and a while," he said. "She's just not in the pool anymore."

Of the five newcomers, Cheyenne Howard is the lone member with competitive swimming experience. David Adams said he expects her to take charge in the butterfly.

"She doesn't like freestyle for some reason," David Adams said. "She prefers butterfly for some reason, which is unusual but encouraging."

Newcomer Victoria Issa doesn't have much competitive swimming experience, but David Adams said he expects her to do well in the backstroke.

"She doesn't go off the blocks very well, but her backstrokes start will get her about halfway across the pool before she's come up for air," he said.

With the first meet coming so soon, the Monarchs have been doing two-a-days to try and be prepared, conditioning at the school in the mornings and swimming in the afternoons. At practice, he said the returners are swimming about 4,000 yards a day.

Though his team has made great strides in terms of its conditioning, Adams said he plans on keeping their event participation low Thursday.

"I don't want to burn them out after the first meet," he said. "Right now, I only have one person doing four events. Everyone else is doing two or three."