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Tide swimmers focusing on self improvement

This season Head Coach Rachael Rutherford has stressed to her swimmers the importance of not paying attention to an opponent’s performance.

Instead, Rutherford wanted her athletes to focus on beating the clock, and bettering themselves.

It’s taken time for the young team to learn how to do that, but at the last meet Rutherford said her swimmers were starting to understand.

“Many of my swimmers who were on the cusp of qualifying times definitely succeeded in focusing on their races. They were really able to take each swim and make it their own,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said there were multiple standout performances, including the boys relay team of Karlin Campbell, Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Alligood and Ryder Burge qualifying for the south state meet in the 200-yard freestyle race.

The individual events saw Jacey Luckie in the 50-yard freestyle, Karlin Campbell in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle, Addison Taggard in the 50-yard freestyle and Heidi Hill in the 50-yard freestyle earn south state times as well.

The squad is small and young, which has led to some of the few experienced swimmers mentoring newer ones.

Rutherford is in her first year in charge of the program, and she’s consistently been trying to build a more supportive culture.

She said Ryder Burge embodied what she has been trying to build when he helped a fellow, exhausted swimmer out of the pool after they swam a 100-yard butterfly race.

“It was such a kind and generous act. Ryder may have been next to swim, but his thoughts were on the others, and that is something I can’t wait for the other swimmers to start learning,” Rutherford said.

The athletes will only have a week before the last meet of the regular season takes place on Oct. 8 at the Millbrook Golf & Country Club.

During the last couple of practices Rutherford wants her swimmers to focus on improving their dives and turns.

“I’m slowly seeing the confidence build across the board. I want every kid to be able to get out of the water, and feel like without a doubt they swam their best attempt,” Rutherford said.

A swim season for the Maroon Tide is rather short, lasting only two months.

Even with the limited amount of time for practice, Rutherford has seen her swimmers embrace the necessary work ethic to become better.

“These kids have done an incredible job of kicking into full gear for the swim season. I just wish I had a little more time,” Rutherford said.

The final meet of the regular season will pit Rutherford’s team against her brother Blake and his team at Pearl River Central High School.

It will be the last chance swimmers have to qualify for south state, but Rutherford wants her swimmers to focus more on enjoying the last competition of the regular season.

“Our next meet against PRC, I really want to be a fun experience. I don’t necessarily want it to be a rivalry, but a chance to try and grow, and have a positive experience,” Rutherford said.