Marshall County opens the 2013-2014 high school swim season Saturday in the Rick Cohn Invitational at Hopkinsville.
The Marshals and Lady Marshals will have a new coach, Laken Dirkes Adair, who takes over from Kevin Stephens.
Adair starred in sports at Marshall County, but not in swimming – she was a three-time state champion hurdler from 2005 through 2007, and also played soccer.
She is a special education teacher at Benton Middle School.
“I originally got hired at the high school and [Principal Amy Waggoner] approached me about the swim coach position,” Adair said. “She knew, of course, I was in athletics.”
Adair also served as an assistant to Michael Boone with the MCHS Lady Marshals soccer team this fall.
Her teaching assignment was changed from the high school to the middle school, but, she said, “I still got to be the swim coach. It’s been a good experience.”
But she knows she was hired because of a general sports pedigree, not because of her swimming expertise.
“I had to find somebody who knew something about swimming,” Adair admitted. She has landed former Marshal swimmer Ian Bradley as assistant coach.
“I heard Ian swam and I called him up and I didn’t let him go,” Adair said.
The team lost four seniors to graduation from last year’s squad, which sent nine swimmers to the second day of Region 1 meet competition, but several of those top performers return this year, including tri-captains Austin Gordon, Grant Park and Allie Pearson, all seniors.
Gordon and Paul Hudson lowered school records last year in their performances at the region meet, Gordon in the 100 backstroke and Hudson in the 100 breaststroke.
Park and Pearson were among the MCHS swimmers who advanced to the region finals last year.
Hudson, a junior, is attending classes at Western Kentucky University as he completes his last two years of high school, but will swim with the Marshall County team.
“He‘s training there and he’s going to swim with us,” Adair said.
Three meets are scheduled after Thanksgiving, on Dec. 2 at the Paducah Athletic Club, Dec. 12 in Madisonville and Dec. 14 at Murray State’s Wellness Center pool.