State meet “good learning experience” for girls swim/dive

By Brett Tieman

“State…offers a pretty crazy atmosphere that’s unlike any swim meet these kids go through, so just being able to be there, in contention, under the bright lights and feel that pressure is going to give us the sense of what we need to look for and what we need to expect next year.” -Head Coach Kevin Bigham

The girls swim and dive team headed out for the state meet in Columbia on February 15 after claiming the conference championship. After a season full of highs, the Cats finished tenth overall. It was the first top ten finish since 2014 and even though they believe they could have done better, the young team looks to take the experience and use it as motivation for next season.

“State was a very good learning experience for our team. It is a really unique meet. It offers a pretty crazy atmosphere that’s unlike any swim meet these kids go through, so just being able to be there, in contention, under the bright lights and feel that pressure is going to give us the sense of what we need to look for and what we need to expect next year,” head coach Kevin Bigham said.

Two girls did come out of state earning first team all-state honors. Junior Shaedyn Read received the honor for the 500-meter free. Read felt her success came in large part due to the extra motivation she had to compete this year.

“I was more motivated this season because I didn’t swim high school last season, and it’s a lot different than club because it is much more about the team and helping others, and I also enjoyed getting to train with Kevin (Bigham),” Read said

Read also enjoyed the meet a lot a more than when she went her freshman year due to new format of splitting up the classes and her being overall more competitive.

“It wasn’t as big which was nicer than my freshman year, and I also wasn’t expecting to all-state as a freshman, so it was much more exciting this year knowing that I’d be more competitive,” Read said.

Earning all-State honors as well was freshman Annemarie Rehbein for the 100-meter breaststroke. As one of very few freshman to earn all-state honors, Rehbein looks to play a large part in the Cats’ success in the coming years.

“We’re really excited to have Anne-Marie as a freshman. She by far the best freshman in state at her event, and one of the best freshman overall which is something great to be able to build off of,” Bigham said

With the season over, Bigham is already eager to begin next season as he believes the team can move forward even more than they did this year.

“Our program is moving in the right direction. We got top ten in state for the first time since 2014. We return pretty much everyone except for (seniors) Maisy (Kurucz) and Natalie (Sheehy), so we’re going to be in contention for a conference championship again, and I believe next year is when we’re going to do best at state. We have a lot of solid juniors coming back, and plenty of depth in the underclassmen as well,” Bigham said.

While most of the team is returning next year, the leadership that Kurucz and Sheehy provided leaves tough shoes to fill.

“Natalie and Maisy were the best leaders by example, but they were also both really charismatic and able to rally the group together.If there was something not going great at a meet, we just had to say something to one of them and they’d be able to help get the tides turned. It’ll be really tough to replace them from a leadership perspective next year,” Bigham said.

Bigham also believes the junior class will step up big next year.

“Our junior class is our deepest, strongest class, so if there’s a class that can carry over the leadership that this previous senior class had, it’s definitely the class of 2019,” Bigham said.

Read agrees with Bigham as she believes she will be able to come in strong next season and help lead the team.

“I’m going to be swimming club the entire high school off-season. I plan to improve by competing here and training all summer so I can be ready to help and lead the team next year.”

With a strong group of juniors ready to lead, the swim and dive team looks to take what they’ve learned this year and use it to come back even stronger next year.