Back to the pool: Area high school swim teams look for continued success
The Bishop England swimming teams face daunting schedules this season, as the Battling Bishops boys look to improve on their 3A state runner-up finish last year and the girls try to climb the state ladder after finishing sixth.
Coach Rose Van Metre said Bishop England “lost great leadership” with the graduations of senior captains Doug Stieby and Katie Dosher but replace them with Matthew Adams, Jack Story, Ellie Burton and Camden Taylor this season.
Until Oct. 5, which is the date of the state swim meet, the Bishops will be challenged with invitational meets, like the Carolyn Keller, and 4A opponents like Wando, Ashley Ridge and Summerville. They’ll also face Academic Magnet in a meet that Van Metre said “are always competitive.”
“Carolyn Keller is a great, spirited meet with tough competition. The swimmers cheer loudly and the meet has some fast times,” she added. “We have a tough schedule that will allow us to get ready for the competition against the Upper State teams at the state meet.”
On the boys side, the team’s weaknesses is simple: there’s not enough swimmers. “We have few boys that swim,” she said. “They are excellent swimmers, but we lose a lot of points when we can’t field four swimmers in an event at the state meet.”
The boys won the 200 and 400 freestyle relays at the state meet last year, and with three of those swimmers returning this season, the Bishops are favorites to repeat. The girls are aiming to accumulate some top 10 finishes at the state meet.
The Palmetto Christian Academy girls swim team is favored to repeat as SCISA 1A/2A state champions this season, while the boys hope to enter the upper echelon after earning sixth last year.
The Eagles were also awarded four individual gold medals. “Our team is basically intact from last year,” coach Gary Heinz said. “We have actually added a few new good swimmers, and our veterans will have to step up their swimming to the next level and compete hard. Our boys team will be much more competitive this year.”
Palmetto Christian can use tough 3A, local competition, like Porter-Gaud and First Baptist, to prepare for the state meet. “Our schedule will be tough like last year,” Heinz said. “At state, I expect it to be a ‘dog fight’ to the end – coming down to one or two individual races and possibly a relay to determine the champion team.”
Wando swimming coach Allyson Brown had about as good of a year last year as you could. Both the boys and girls teams won state championships, she was named the region’s girls coach of the year and honored with Wando’s teacher of the year award.
“Of course we would love them to win the state title again this year,” Brown said, “but we really want them to have fun while reaching their full potential and enjoy the team camaraderie.”
Eleven players from the state title teams have moved on. “It is hard to see them go, but I am so proud of all of them. I think our new swimmers and returning swimmers will fill the ‘fins’ of those we lost,” Brown said. “I know the younger swimmers have looked up to the older/graduated swimmers and try to do their best.”
Wando has several closely scheduled meets this season. Brown said that’s because she prefers not to schedule meets on the week of the region meet, leaving the last week of August and month of September to fit in seven events.