MURRAY – Swimmers from Marshall County High School and Christian Fellowship School, idle since a Dec. 17 meet hosted by Murray High at Murray State University’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center, return to action Saturday in another meet presented by Murray at the same venue.
MCHS coach Kevin Stephens said this first meet in the new year kick-starts the stretch run to post-season meet competition.
“We really start focusing on improving times for specific events so that we can be more successful in regionals in early February,” Stephens said.
Before Christmas holiday, he said, swimmers were participating in various events with a more general improvement on a broad level as the goal.
“Now,” he said, “swimmers will start swimming primarily in their best events to hopefully ... drop some time in those events.”
Saturday’s competition will help the team get back into a routine after the time off, Stephens said.
“We had a few voluntary practices over the break and we had some good attendance in those,” he said. “This first meet will help us start to regain our focus on the season.”
Stephens also paid a compliment to Murray and its Tiger team.
“Murray High School puts on some great invitational meets, and we don’t have to travel as far as some of the others,” he said.
Assessing the performances so far by his team, Stephens said he believes the girls’ squad is on par with his pre-season forecast while the youth-dominated boys’ team is exceeding expectations.
“Our girls, led by Erika Darnell and Sarah Telle, continue to impress me at every meet,” Stephens said. “Jessie Anderson has also proven her value to the team competing in multiple events and any relay.
“Those three girls will score points regardless of what they are swimming.”
Stephens also singled out Whitney Barrett and Sidney Jackson for continued improvement.
As for the boys, he noted that sophomores Grant Park and Austin Gordon and freshman Paul Hudson have met goals that were established for them prior to the season.
All three underclassmen “continue to improve at every competition,” Stephens said.
“These boys have truly demonstrated that hard work will pay off,” he said. “They give their best effort every time they are in the water, regardless of if it is a meet or a daily practice.”
Darnell, Telle and Anderson return from last year’s 400 free relay team, which qualified for the state meet. Amanda Anderson, who graduated last year, was the fourth member of that team.
Stephens noted he’d be pleased to take another group of swimmers back to state this year, but the emphasis is on sharpening skills prior to the event which will determine state eligibility.
“Our main focus at this point is getting to our best possible times in each event, swimming the best we can by Feb. 10 when we travel to Owensboro for our Regional championship meet,” he said.