PRC swimming ready to have another successful year

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 28, 2019

There’s a lot that happens between being the first one off the block and the first to touch the wall during a swim meet.

It’s a sport of small margins, and even with those obstacles Head Coach Blake Rutherford and the swimming teams at Pearl River Central High School were successful last year. 

Now, Rutherford wants to build on that success, and the transition of PRC from a Class 2 to a Class 1 school might make that goal even more attainable.

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“Class 2 is more of the 4-A, 5-A and 6-A teams, and Class 1 is more of the smaller teams,” Rutherford said.

“The standard of times in Class 1 is a lot easier to make than Class 2, so we should blow that out of the water.”

Along with a few talented swimmers like Anthony Werner on the boys side and Amber Bounds on the girls side who won individual awards, PRC’s relay teams were also able to place at the state meet.

Rutherford credits the swimming program within the Pearl River County School District for the team’s success. He said that his squads are lucky because the swimming programs start in middle school, allowing the youngsters to become technical swimmers by the time they reach the high school level.

Youth was a common theme amongst both squads for the Blue Devils, and next year the teams will once again be made up of veterans and new talent. Rutherford says that in order for his swimmers to be successful they should be swimming all year, which can be difficult because the closest year-round teams are in Slidell, La. However, if a swimmer wants to be serious about the sport, Rutherford said that doing year-round swimming can be rough, but useful.

“When they get into high school they are doing five to six two hour practices a week,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said that during high school season the athletes are usually going to their year round practice from 5:30-7 a.m., going to class and then practicing in the afternoon. Learning how to be that dedicated is just one of the many facets of swimming that can positively impact athletes.

“Time management, resiliency, leadership, dealing with different personalities and accepting them, those are the big ones,” Rutherford said.

Mental and physical toughness is important, but Rutherford said that doesn’t inhibit each athlete’s ability to cheer on their teammates and counterparts when it comes time to race.The sport can seem like one that focuses on individuals given the way awards are earned, but it’s a little more complex.

“It is an interesting dynamic in that swimmers need to be selfless in order to do your best and take responsibility for what you need to do and work hard,” Rutherford said. “It builds a sense of relationship and competition knowing that I have to do my best as an athlete to help the team as a whole.”