Swimmers keep chins above water

Senior+Benjamin+Baker+tucks+his+knees+to+his+chest+to+preform+a+proper+backflip+in+practice+at+the+Mizzou+Aquatic+Center%2C+Sept.+10.+Coming+back+from+eighth+place+at+state+last+year+compared+to+the+former+year%E2%80%99s+41st%2C+the+Bruin+swimming+and+diving+team+has+consistently+improved+in+recent+years+and+hopes+to+continue+this+success.

Senior Benjamin Baker tucks his knees to his chest to preform a proper backflip in practice at the Mizzou Aquatic Center, Sept. 10. Coming back from eighth place at state last year compared to the former year’s 41st, the Bruin swimming and diving team has consistently improved in recent years and hopes to continue this success.

Raj Satpathy

Senior Benjamin Baker tucks his knees to his chest to preform a proper backflip in practice at the Mizzou Aquatic Center, Sept. 10. Coming back from eighth place at state last year compared to the former year’s 41st, the Bruin swimming and diving team has consistently improved in recent years and hopes to continue this success.

It is no secret that after the summer Olympics, the popularity of sports such as swimming and diving skyrocketed in America. When the nation’s aquatic representatives dominated as they did in London it’s hard for such fervor not to reach a fever pitch, resulting in a nation fascinated with the pool and ready to dive off the deep end.

Of course, one does not become an Olympic swimmer by simply waking up one day and jumping into a pool. Like any other sport, it is a journey if one wants to get to the top, a journey which, for many, starts in high school. The typical practice for Bruin swimmers starts at 4 p.m. and goes on for as long as they have the strength to keep on swimming. The swimmers don’t mind, though.

“It’s worth it,” senior Blake Ward said, a competitor in both the 500 freestyle and diving. “Once you slip into the water, you just feel pumped and ready to go. You’re ready to swim.”

Ward is one of four seniors on the team. The swimmers and divers, for the most, are evenly distributed among grades, with roughly four members from each class. All are excited for a new season where they will try to overcome obstacles posed by the tough competition last year.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to state,” Stanton said. “It’ll be a challenge since schools like Rockhurst [in Kansas City] recruit and have 80 swimmers on their team, but our team is a lot faster this year.”

Having such a large team will undoubtedly give Rockhurst and other large schools an advantage in terms of numbers – the more swimmers there are, the more events in which they can compete. But even if other schools have the leg up when it comes to the amount of swimmers, the incoming RBHS talent is not scarce in the least.

“A lot of the underclassmen are the fast kids this year,” Stanton said. “They’re just now starting high school, but they’ve been swimming for most of their lives in [Columbia Swim Club].”

The Bruins has competed in five meets already. While they haven’t placed first in any of these meets, the swim team’s performance has been rather extraordinary, considering the number of skilled swimmers who graduated last year.

“We have different  athletes to work with this year and are in a rebuilding point after the loss of so many of our top swimmers last year.” RBHS boys and girls swim coach Karen Steger said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t do well, though.”

Last year, RBHS secured eighth at state with 94 points, while Rockhust, the state champions, scored 269.5 points. That’s a stark improvement over the year before when they came in 41st with only two points. The coming year is sure to be an exciting one for the swimming and diving teams. Steger said he is looking forward to a competitive year and has high hopes for the season to come.

“We have a great group of guys that work well together and want to get better.  They ask what they can do to improve and are willing to make corrections to make them more successful,” Steger said. “They are there to support one another, which makes it such an enjoyable team to work with and contributes to their success.”

By Raj Satpathy