Girls' Swimming and Diving: East Ridge, Park ready to put a mark on the 2018 season
The Park and East Ridge girls swimming and diving programs have increased participation from last season, which makes the two coaches excited for the upcoming season.
For Park, none of the swimmers and divers qualified for the state tournament. For the Raptors, they sent Chloe Wangensteen in the 100-yard breaststroke and Callie Kunz in freestyle.
The goal this year is simple: Bring these swimmers back to state once again, but also bring back other individuals as well as the team.
"We were so happy to have Callie and Chloe represent our school last season," said Kathy Madden, East Ridge girls' swimming head coach. "Now, we just hope to have more swimmers and divers qualify for state."
For East Ridge, Madden will have more kids to choose from as 62 individuals have practiced with the team. She will have 52 swimmers and 10 divers, which is more than tripling her size of divers from last season.
The Raptors finished in second place at sections last year, while breaking two school records throughout the season. Madden said she's excited for this season because the Raptors are bringing back many returners from each grade.
The biggest class size is from the eighth graders, which means the future looks bright and Madden is hoping it translates to this season. She believes the team has experienced enough from last season to form a better mindset and build into a stronger 2018 season.
"We hope that new girls on the team learn from the ones with experience from last year," Madden said. "This group of girls not only excels in the swimming pool, but also at school with grades and in the community as people. It's great to see them grow this way."
The Park Wolfpack team will be seeing many new faces as well, but an increase in numbers which is always a positive to have heading into a long 16-week season.
The biggest thing head coach Amanda Johnson has noticed this offseason is the training the girls did to make sure they were ready for the swimming season.
"Whether it's another sport or doing swimming all year, you can tell that they've trained and conditioned really well," Johnson said. "That leads us to focus on small aspects to improve our techniques."
Park senior and co-captain Tinana Cachuela is one of those swimmers that practices throughout the entire offseason with club programs and meets. She agrees that she's seen the growth of offseason participants and it's impacted practices at Park on a strong level.
Even though Johnson teaches some of the basics to many of her girls on the team, Cachuela appreciates learning those skills too. She forgot how those little things can help develop a player so much.
As for the upcoming season, Park captains Alyssa Larson and Cachuela believe this team has the opportunity to send more swimmers to state and compete at each regular season meet.
They know it won't be easy due to how tough the conference can be, but the main goal for Johnson and these captains is to enjoy each day and continue learning each day.
"The team chemistry has been strong and that always helps," Larson said. "We're just ready to get in the pool and start swimming."