When writing a column, I sometimes have a subject in mind, but sometimes a different event or thought comes to me and I write about another subject. That is what happen with this column. Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the Southwest Missouri Swimming Championships held at Hillcrest High School in Springfield.
I was very impressed with what I saw and with the event. It was large, larger than I expected. The event was held on Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday's event determined who would be qualified to come back for the finals. I can only imagine that there were many more competing Tuesday. Being invited to the finals was a special honor in itself. There were a lot of swimmers that did not make it that far.
This is the first year for swimming to be offered to boys at Nevada High School. For a small group they have been successful in their first year. It has provided a good experience for those involved, and I should say a needed experience. Approximately eight boys took part in the new program during the season.
One of the swimmers taking part in the new swimming program is our grandson, Dalton Eador. He and his friends in the program were pleased that they had this opportunity.
My appreciation goes to the administration, the school board and Kevin McKinley for making this new athletic event available. Thanks also go to Ryan Watts for being the swim coach for this first year of swimming at NHS and working with the boys. In each news release during the season about the meets, coach Watts always had something positive to say about the group. This helps to give those involved inspiration.
Since all of the swim meets are out of town, I seldom attend. The boys practice at the YMCA and I understand that is where the girls have practiced in recent years and will again this year. It is unfortunate that we do not have the facilities where a swim meet could be held locally.
I did attend one meet at the Y in Carthage and one held at Webb City High School. Most of the meets have been held in Springfield or farther away.
A few years ago, I thought nothing of driving to Springfield; it did not seem all that far. However, something must have changed. Now it is a long way to Springfield.
I had thought the best time to attend the Southwest Missouri Championships would be on Tuesday night for the preliminary events. I hoped that I would be able attend this district event. The way it turned out, I was not able to going on Tuesday. However, I was able to ride down to watch the finals. I am glad I went as it was a great event.
When we arrived at Hillcrest we went to the building where the pool is located. When we went inside I was impressed how large it was. The pool is 50 meters long with six lanes. Connected to the L shape pool is an area where the swimmers can get in the water to warm up. The seating capacity is good with good bleachers well spaced between rows.
It was a noisy place, especially during the races. A common yell was, "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!" or "Come on, _." There was loud whistling. All was being done to encourage the swimmers, slow swimmers as well as the fast swimmers.
Since this was a championship event, a special medal ceremony was held at the conclusion of each event, to present medals to the winners. Generally, there were three heats in each event.
In a swimming competition, a second, or even a fraction of a second, makes a major difference. It is hard to beat a former time that the swimmer has had. It is easy to end up adding time. When talking to swimmers, I often get the two mixed up, because dropping time is good and adding time is negative.
In high school sports there comes a time to honor seniors. I will admit that I usually choke up and tend to be teary eyed. One of the things that they did during the meet was to have a special time to honor all of the seniors. They lined up and each came forward when their name was announced. Generally, a family member or members were with them.
Included in the group of seniors was Morgan Hold from Nevada. There is a feeling by some from Nevada that they wish he would be back next year, he will be missed.
In addition to Dalton and Morgan participating in the Southwest Missouri Championships were Jason Claypool and Andrel Ziabchenko. Besides their individual events they teamed up for the 200 medley relay. Only a small group of all the swimmers qualified to go on to state competition. Jesse had previously qualified for state in the 100-meter breaststroke, but he knocked a second off his time at Springfield.
In the November issue of Herald-Tribune Coach Watts is quoted saying, "I am very proud of my team and could not have asked more from the inaugural boys swim team. It was a great season for everyone."
Jesse competes in the 2tate competition this week. Congratulations goes to Jesse for his success and best wishes are extended to him as he goes to state. Jesse, Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!
Andrel is a freshman; Jesse and Dalton are sophomores, they will be returning next year. Several others are expected to join them. As we look toward to next year, we can say, "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!"