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Picayune swimming’s top athletes part of bright future

Swimming can seem like an individualistic sport for those not involved, but the swimmers who put the team first rise above the rest.

It’s for those reasons 10th grader Lily Ginn and 8th grader Ryder Burge were chosen by Head Coach Rachael Rutherford as the top boy and girl swimmers for the Picayune Maroon Tide swim team from this past season.

The squad is full of up and coming talent, which Ginn and Burge both embody.

Not only are the two swimmers young, they are selfless supporters of the team.

Burge is one of only three swimmers making up the boys portion of the team, but that didn’t stop him from excelling this past season.

He constantly cut time on his individual events and even made it to the final rounds of the state meet.

Ginn, even though she’s only a sophomore, served as one of the team’s elder statesmen who helped Rutherford whenever asked.

She also made it to the state meet.

Rutherford said Burge showed his character when he helped an exhausted swimmer from an opposing team out of the water during a meet.

She’s hoping he can continue to lead, while also influencing the other swimmers to become more team oriented.

“His dedication and love for the sport is something that he’s shown everyone on that team how to do. He is a great example for all the other swimmers to learn from,” Rutherford said.

Ginn swims on a summer team and has been a part of the Maroon Tide program for years. Rutherford said her experience and leadership was exemplified in the way she took on any challenge.

“What was cool about Lily was she came day in and day out, got in the water, and didn’t ask questions. By the end of the swim season she was placed higher than other swimmers,” Rutherford said.

Burge and Ginn improved as the season went on and put themselves in a position to medal at the state meet.

However, Rutherford said they are more focused on the team rather than individual accolades, even if both athletes performed well in their specific events.

“Their times showed me they were working on themselves, but that was never their initial goal. I need swimmers who are willing to help each other and build a sense of community,” Rutherford said.

This was the first year in charge for Rutherford so she has to build her program from the ground up.

To have young swimmers involved who understand the importance of the team helps when creating a winning program with a positive culture.

Rutherford hopes Burge and Ginn continue their improvement as they become cornerstones of her budding program.

“(Ginn) is a great team player, it’s just about building that confidence, saying ‘I’m a leader and a great swimmer,’” Rutherford said.

“(Burge) is doing everything he needs to as a swimmer. He set a goal to me and told me ‘I’m going to get more (swimmers) for you next year,’” Rutherford said.