Swimmers regroup with greater numbers

Isaac Pasley

The girls’ swim team has undergone a monumental face lift this year.
In the past, the team was small, with only 11 swimmers competing last year. However, this year’s team includes an expanded roster of 43 swimmers among both Hickman and RBHS and new coach Karen Steger.
“It’s different with the new coach because a lot of girls are swimming this year,” sophomore Kortney Betz said. “Everyone’s going to be at state, and it will be a good time.”
With this team much bigger than last year’s, the swimmers and coach have new responsibilities. The team, which used to practice after school, now has to practice from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m., since that is the only time available for the coach.
“Mornings aren’t the greatest, but it’s the only time we have to get in the pool,” Betz said.
Steger, however, doesn’t think the early hours of practice will negatively affect her swimmers.
“It was hard to get used to, but [assistant coach Peter] Willett and I have become used to being up early with the boys’ season,” Steger said. “We’ve realized that the ones we have got now are committed to the program and doing what’s best, and if that means getting up before 5 a.m. and going to school with wet hair smelling like chlorine, then they’ll do it.”
Despite the early practice time, the girls have positive opinions of their new coach.
The new coach “is super fun,” senior Kate Walker said. “It’s really great that our new coach is working so well with us and our club coach so far. Our club coach and our high school coach get along. They have come up with a pretty solid plan that determines who is going to what practices.”
The girls’ dream is to win state, but even if that doesn’t happen, they are determined to improve.
“Maybe we’ll have a chance at a state title, [but] whatever happens, happens,” Betz said. “Swim team this year is really about coming together and doing it for the school.”
For the nearly 40 years that RBHS has existed, the girls’ swim team has never won state. Nevertheless, Steger sees potential in her team.
“I think it’s going to be a great season, and I think it’s only going to keep getting better,” Steger said. “These are some of the hardest working, most committed swimmers I have worked with in my nine years as a high school coach, and I only see great things to come.”
Many of the swimmers agree with Steger. They, too, say their team has an exciting future in store.
“We definitely have a run at a state title,” Walker said. “We have already looked at the times from past state meets, and I think that with our solid talent level, we can do something good.”
However, Walker acknowledges the road ahead will be challenging because of stiff competition.
“Glendale is pretty fast, and Blue Springs is pretty good,” Walker said. “A lot of girls have junior national times and are doing really well. We have a really young team.”
The girls’ first chance to prove themselves will be Dec. 10, when they travel to Marquette in Chesterfield, Mo., at the Marquette Relays.
“Last year we didn’t have that many girls, but this year we have so many girls with so much talent, so it is all coming together,” Betz said. “We are ready to swim fast.”
By Isaac Pasley