Moffat County swimmers going with the flow amid big roster changes
For the Craig Press
The Moffat County High School girls swim team has perhaps seen more adjustments than any other Bulldog sports program at in the last several years, and while those changes keep coming, aquatic athletes are staying the course.
MCHS dove in for a new season in the past week, getting back in the water and preparing for big results in the coming months.
This winter will see some significant shifts in the lineup given that the team said farewell to a great number of senior swimmers back in March.
“We had eight girls graduate last year, so a lot of things will be different this year,” said head coach Melany Neton.
In spite of allowing fewer qualifiers at the state finals amid COVID-19 precautions, MoCo swimming had entries in two races, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 400 freestyle relay. Apart from the MCHS seniors who competed in those events, Meeker’s Hailey Knowles was also in the relay, though she will be playing basketball this winter.
Even so, the remaining swimmers who have been to state events include sophomore Megan Neton, junior Sarah Johnson, and Meeker’s Kate Lockwood, all of whom served as state alternates in past years.
While the lineup is by no means set in stone, coach Neton expects those three will be big components this year, particularly in the 200 individual medley relay, consisting of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.
“We’ll be checking the times, looking at their splits, and seeing who can do those strokes,” she said. “Sarah is a great breaststroker, Kate can do the backstroke, Megan can fly for us, and it’s just a matter of who can do that freestyle the fastest to determine that slot.”
The roster consists of 11, which is a mix of Moffat County and Meeker girls, a continuing reality given that the home pool is at the Meeker Recreation Center, where they have held practices since the MCHS pool was shut down in 2018.
Coach and athletes have by now gotten used to the travel involved, amid many other changes, but a welcome change this season is going back to a more familiar schedule compared to the rushed 2020-21 schedule.
“It’s great that we can have a regular season again. Last year, they only had six weeks in the water to get them in condition and ready to go, so it was a speedy season,” Neton said. “This time, hopefully we can work on some basics with the new girls and get them ready.”
Johnson, who will serve as a team captain alongside Lockwood, said she’s most looking forward to the team bonding that takes place on the road.
“All our trips to meets are great, since we have a lot of bus time, so we talk a lot,” Johnson said. “I’ve been meeting a lot of new people since we have so many new girls after our seniors left.”
The team will include numerous athletes in their first year of competitive swimming, as well as those who are looking to build on their previous year.
Meeker sophomore Vivian Brown joined the team last season with twin sister Wagner and is looking to be a bigger part of the squad.
“I’m really focusing on getting in the main relays to make it to state, like the 200 IM and the 400 free,” Vivian Brown said. “In the IM, I do freestyle or backstroke. In the free I feel like I have way more control, I don’t have to push myself as much as with the others.”
She added that she first started in the sport as part of the Meeker Marlins youth team, but the high school level has been noticeably more intense.
“When I was younger, I never thought of it as a competition, but now it really is. It’s more hard, more serious,” Vivian said.
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