By AUSTIN COLBERT
Ana Goodlett was sitting in class when she overheard Lakin Ditter and Emily Brinley talking about their starts at a recent swim meet. Goodlett had just begun taking lessons, but this was the first time she had seriously given thought to becoming a competitive swimmer.
After talking to her parents, Goodlett decided to join the Hays Hurricanes, the local swim club, during the summer leading up to her eighth grade year.
Now Goodlett, along with Ditter and Brinley, are taking their experience with the Hurricanes to Hays High School, where they are expected to be major contributors as freshmen for the girls' swim team.
"I was really nervous about it, but really excited about it at the same time," Goodlett said about her first practices as a high school swimmer. "Being part of the Hurricanes ... it helped me so I wouldn't have to be just starting to learn to swim. I will be able to excel faster."
Hays High swim coach Ann Adams believes the freshmen trio will make an instant splash for the Indians this season, including in their season opening meet today at 3:30 p.m. at Salina South.
But they shouldn't have to carry the team by any means, as 14 of the 22 swimmers on the 2014 roster return from last year, some of which have state experience.
"The meet is where you actually see what needs to be done yet. I'll know more Thursday night than what I know now," Adams said. "Thanks to the Hurricanes, we got three girls, three freshmen, who have years of experience. So that's going to bring a lot of depth to the team."
The Indians do have to replace a few state qualifiers from last year, including Courtney Hess, Jessica Carreira and Courtney Kaba. But they return veteran swimmers Emily McPherson, MacKenzie Lewis and Alexa Steinkuhler.
The returning trio should make up the bulk of the Indians' 400 relay team, which will be among their strongest events. Hays High should be very competitive in each relay event this year, with possible school records in sight.
"We definitely are looking at the relays. Personal records are kind of hard to get, but as a team we can push ourselves through to make those (relay) records," said Steinkuhler, a senior. "We have a bigger team. We have a lot of girls that were on the Hurricane swim team, so hopefully we will come out with more wins than we did and finish at state better than we did last year."
The Indians are scheduled to compete in 10 regular-season meets this year, including their own on April 28 in Hays. Hays High will also host the WAC meet on May 15.