Southern Wayne swimmers post record season
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 23, 2006 1:47 PM
With minimal training time and no year-round program, you'd think a team just might struggle in practice and against competition on a daily basis.
Then again, some coaches and athletes would disagree with that statement. In fact, if you're a member of the Southern Wayne swim team, you might just use that comment as motivation. After all, there's no better satisfaction than proving a critic wrong.
Early on a cold November morning, 21 weary-eyed Saint swimmers abandoned the warm covers of their beds and headed to practice. Several of them couldn't swim more than 10 yards in the pool before their lungs began to burn, which forced them to stop and gulp a few breaths of air.
That didn't discourage them.
Each day, these young men and women drove 30 minutes to practice and worked out for nearly two hours. Swimmers spent time fine tuning the techniques involved in different events, particularly starts (off the board) and turns.
Once practice ended, they'd shower and drive 30 minutes home -- just in time to start their school day.
"(Admittedly), the team started out kind of slow. Everyone was stiff because they hadn't been in the water for eight months," said assistant coach Mike Moulas, who handled most of the paperwork while wife Teri and Linda Chastain shouldered the coaching duties. "When you swim three months a year with no physical activity (the rest of the season) against a higher caliber of swimmers is difficult, but they handled it extremely well."
The three-hour days and 15-hour weeks might have seemed overwhelming for the average swimmer, but not this group of Saints. Fueled by an inner desire to succeed, they never complained about their daily regimen. As the season progressed, they began reaping the rewards of their hard work.
The team broke 16 of 22 school records in boys' and girls' events combined.
Seniors John Barefoot and Jonathan Whaley helped set program bests in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. Phil Howell and Andy Wice, both underclassmen, competed on the 200 medley squad. Justin Whaley, also a senior, and
Wice participated on the 200 and 400 free relays. Wice, Barefoot, the Whaley
siblings and Fitch Carrere combined to set school records in seven individual events.
On the girls' side, the foursome of Jessica Howell, Rachel Reynolds, Heather Edwards and Megan Little posted school-record times
in the 200 and 400 free relays. Michelle Joyner and Katie Westfall, the lone female senior, joined Reynolds and Little on the record-setting 200 medley relay.
Edwards, Howell, Reynolds and Joyner combined to set five individual records.
"Building up stamina and doing a lot of yardage, when you haven't been doing that for awhile, it's like 'wow'", said Mike Moulas. "Some of the girls started out at eight minutes in the 500 (free) and by the end of the season had brought it down to around seven minutes.
"They all did extremely well. I was impressed with the workmanship of the kids, how they stuck together and respected each other."
Twelve of the 21 individuals either met or surpassed the eastern regional qualifying
in their respective individual events. Six relays -- three boys and three
girls -- also advanced to the regional level. Just four swimmers qualified for the regionals a year ago.
Not a single Saint advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Swimming
Championships, but their spirit never wavered. As they did throughout the season,
the Saints not only cheered for their teammates, but showed great enthusiasm for other competitors from Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference teams.
With just four seniors departing, the Saints expect to be just as good -- if not better -- next season. The results might not be as phenomenal, but the swimmers have proven that goals are obtainable through hard work.
"Their dedication and accomplishments ... what this team has done in these four short months of swimming, with no-year round swimmers, is inspiring," said Chastain.
Absolutely no one can disagree with that.
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