Picayune swimming ends season on a high note

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Maroon Tide swim team was going to compete in the state swim meet with a squad made entirely of athletes in 10th grade or younger.

However, the youth of the team didn’t stop the swimmers from holding their own at the state meet in Tupelo, Miss on Oct. 26.

State meets have preliminary races in the morning and the fastest eight from those races advance to the finals the same night.

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Head Coach Rachael Rutherford said her athletes’ performances were great, even if there were some hiccups along the way.

“It was definitely a learning curve. There was a lot of mental preparation that I don’t think they were ready for,” Rutherford said.

Even still the swimmers were able to cut time from their previous bests in certain events.

The six swimmers who went to state were seventh grader Heidi Hill, eighth grader Ryder Burge, freshman Lauren Stevenson, sophomore Kylie Burnette, sophomore Riley McKenzie and sophomore Lily Ginn.

All six advanced past the preliminaries and competed in the finals for a chance to stand on the podium.

Rutherford said she was happy with the way her athletes swam, but she wants them to work on owning their performances moving forward.

“We’re going to have to work on their aggression, saying ‘This is mine and I’m going to take it now.’ But every high school athlete has a hard time with that,” Rutherford said.

The team will now head into the offseason with some athletes going to their year-round swim teams and others joining different sports.

No matter what they move on to, Rutherford wants her athletes to stay active because she knows how hard it can be to get back in shape after taking time off.

It was Rutherford’s first season in charge of the team, so she noted some areas she could improve upon heading into next season, even considering how well her team performed in her first year.

“Next year I need to focus a little bit more on my advanced swimmers and get their technique more specific. I’m lucky to have a pretty good base of swimmers, but I need to be giving every student exactly what they need,” Rutherford said.

Either way the success of the team has drawn in athletes and with the team being so young there is hope for the future.

The program is being built brick by brick and Rutherford said she’s hoping to recruit even more athletes next season.

“I created a passion for swimming and I have a lot who are coming back next year. I’m getting to introduce kids to the sport and create that culture,” Rutherford said.

Success in swimming and the workouts involved translate to other sports, so Rutherford hopes other athletes see that and decide to join the team.

Tryouts for next season are slated to take place at the end of the school year.