With no school going on, Christmas break can alter a swimming and diving coach’s expectations during competitions. What they’re looking for isn’t as tangible as a time from a stopwatch or touchpad.
But that doesn’t mean claiming a double dual – as the Blue Springs South girls team did Friday at Centennial Pool-Plex against host Blue Springs and Notre Dame de Sion – isn’t cause for a little excitement.
“It’s always tough to swim over break,” South coach Errich Oberlander said after the Jaguars outscored Blue Springs 112-74 and Sion 94-92. “You don’t have a set schedule, and you miss practice because of Christmas. You want to see good effort, because typically you don’t see the best times.”
Bailey Barnett, who anchored the winning 200-yard medley relay team (2 minutes, 2.21 seconds), took second in the 200 freestyle (2:07.86) and won the 100 free in 58.76, certainly was happy to learn the Jaguars had stayed unbeaten in duals.
“Yesterday we had a really tough practice, so we knew going in we would be tired,” said Barnett, who held off Sion’s anchor in the freestyle leg to secure the relay win. “But everybody had a positive attitude. Our team in general this year is willing to work hard, and that makes it fun to be on the team.”
Kayla Canon, Kadie Clark and Anna Munoz preceded Barnett on the winning relay. Canon had South’s other win, claiming the 100 backstroke in 1:06.99. Besides Barnett in the 200 free, seconds for the Jaguars came from Allie Steinhauser in the 1-meter diving (233.1 point total), Maddie Scott in the 100 free (59.72) and Leza Dorrance in the 500 free (6:02.54). Sydney Dillon made it a 1-2-3 finish for South in the 100 free.
“I liked our effort a lot today,” Oberlander said. “When you have good effort, a lot of times the times come with it.
“Some of the girls haven’t swam over Christmas, so you have to prop them up – tell them, ‘Hey, that was a better time than I expected.’”
Sion outscored Blue Springs 114-72.
Blue Springs got a diving win from Mariah Hagerty (213.27) to open the afternoon, and the 200 free relay team of Leigh Ana Dietiker, Corinne Rinne, Ashley Sturman and Lindsey Meyer won in 1:47.68. Seconds for the Wildcats came from Meyer in the 100 butterfly (1:06.77), Alex Crookston in the 100 breast (1:19.52) and the 400 free relay (4:00.85).
Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley said having last weekend’s Independence Invitational meet cancelled due to weather didn’t add any importance to Friday’s competition in terms of his team’s season-long training.
“It’s all the same. Dual meets are glorified practices,” he said. “They swam well after 6,000 meters of swimming in the morning. There’s some I would’ve like to see compete more, but it’s live and learn. We’re pretty inexperienced in many ways.”
“I liked the way Alex Crookston swam; I liked the way Paige McArthur (100 breast, 200 individual medley) swam; I liked the way Leigh Ana Dietiker (4th, 100 free) swam, but not the way she turned.”
For training purposes, Shalley had two of his top swimmers, Rinne and Sturman, swim off-strokes during the long freestyle races. Rinne swam breaststroke and Sturman butterfly during the 200, and both went through all four strokes during the 500. Sturman still took third in the 200 (2:13.77), while Sturman (6:05.86) and Rinne (6:41.03) went 3-4 in the 500.
“We’re trying to push them to the limits of what they can do,” he said.