Swimming to success

Graham’s swim teams will try for another successful season in 2019-2020 school year.  Swimming is a competitive winter sport that challenges high school swimmers in a number of events, like a 200m freestyle or a 100m backstroke. Overall, the team and individual both strive to increase their times and placings to make it to the state competition in February. In the recent past, the team has dramatically increased in size and talent. Last year, the girls relay teams and one individual, Conor Douthat (11), made it to the state tournament. This is a goal the team is reaching for this year as well. 

Each swimmer on the team has swam for a differing amount of years and has different motivators for swimming. Katie Benson (11) has been swimming for a total of 10 years. She says, “My older sister took swim lessons at Tazewell and the instructor suggested we join the summer team so we did.” Ashley Cline (11) said, “My dad swam in high school, so whenever we learned that Graham had a swim team, I knew that I should try it since my dad loved it so much.” Freshmen Jacob White (9), a member of 2 years, shared, “My friends and sister, Hannah, were going to do it, so I joined in.”

Goals for the swim season are both personal and for the whole team. Lexie Taylor (10) explained, “My personal goal this season is to beat my times from last year and improve my technique. As a team, I’d say our goals are to be more competitive not only with other teams but ourselves.” Payton Rice (10) also added her thoughts, “My goals are to continue to get personal records at each meet and cut more time off my events. Also, to help encourage others on the team and keep us close as a whole so we can be a functional teams. Team goals are to improve not just physically but to also keep a great attitude.” 

Being one of the few boys on the team, Conor Douthat (11) said, “My goal for the team and myself are to make it to state. Personally, I want to make top 10.” This goal could easily become reality, as Conor just secured his spot for the state 100m breaststroke competition at the team’s meet in Kingsport, Tennessee over the weekend. 

This season is different for the team, as an unexpected injury at the beginning led to around 5 weeks of missed practices. Although it may have resulted in lost time and conditioning for the swimmers, they are happy and optimistic about the rest of the season. Payton Rice (10) said, “We lost roughly half of our season, but I believe that through everything that has happened, it has brought us together. Not just as a team but as friends, a support system, and a family. We are doing things differently this season, but it does not mean that we cannot continue to do our best and have a positive outlook on our season!” Lyndsey Billips (11) said, “We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve gotten through it together and just kept swimming no matter what.”

Each member of the team also had varying opinions on their favorite and least favorite parts of swimming in general. Hannah White (9) explained, “My least favorite part would be holding my breath for a long time. My favorite part is being with the people on the team and forming bonds with them.” Conor Douthat (11) agreed saying that practice was his favorite part because he just likes to be with everyone. Lexi Taylor (10) said, “My favorite thing is when you first jump in the water and the cold water gets your adrenaline pumping to the max.” Her least favorite part: spring kicks. 

Overall, this season looks like it will turn out good for the swim team. Emma Donchetz (10) said, “

Our swimmers are doing fantastic and we are all working very hard to become even better.”

— Emma Donchetz