Swimming uses Woodward as momentum towards state run

By Sam Barkin

As the 2012-2013 season approaches the finish, the swim team makes a final push towards state. Coached by legend Pete Higgins and assistant coaches Jan Allen, Rob Cochran, and Richmond Green, the boys and girls teams have their eye set on the state title. The boys team is 2-5, while the girls team is 3-4.

This year the captains for the team are seniors Will Kibler, Lilly Nunnally, Erika Redding, and Nicole Stafford, and junior Gabriel Bellot-McGrath. These captains have helped a lot in leading the team both by example and in the locker room.

“[Kibler] has been fantastic on the boys’ side,” said assistant Coach Rob Cochran. “As far as setting a standard and holding his teammates accountable, [Kibler] has been wonderful. [Redding] has also done a great job leading this team.”

“In the past, we have always just listened to the captains, and this year we are the ones having to do the pump up speeches,” said Nunnally. “In the past I didn’t think being a captain was that big of a deal, but now I’m realizing how much you have to do and how you have to hold everyone accountable.”

This year the Catfish have welcomed two new assistant coaches: Rob Cochran and Richmond Green. Cochran is a sixth grade World Cultures teacher who swam at the collegiate level at the University of New Hampshire and who previously coached at Riverwood High School. Green used to swim at the University of Georgia.

“They’ve both been so helpful,” said Nunnally. “They’ve definitely added a new aspect to the team. They’ve made it more fun, but also way more serious, making sure everyone who is there at practice is there to get better.”

“[Cochran’s] practices are a lot better,” said junior John Stahel. “We are doing better under him.”

Things did not look good for the girls’ team after graduating star performers like Katherine Kerman and Hays Bynum. However, along with the improvement and dedication of many of last year’s swimmers, the girls found hope in the addition of senior Jamie Christy, who is heading to the University of Southern California to swim this fall. Although Christy has always been a fantastic swimmer, she has not chosen to swim with Westminster since freshman year, choosing instead to swim with an outside club team.  A swimmer who competes in the 200-yard medley relay, 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, and 400-yard freestyle relay, Christy gives the team some much-needed depth.

Joining Christy on the list of swimmers who will take the team to state this year is her sister, sophomore Katie Christy. Furthermore, seniors Lilly Nunnally, Erika Redding, and Nicole Stafford (who will be swimming at Stanford next fall), as well as junior Maddie Downs give the Wildcats incredible depth that they have used to their advantage.

Another key factor for the girls is the emergence of talented freshmen. Emily Bassett, Margaret Maxwell, and Taylor Penn have all gotten their state cuts, which has been very key to the squad as they hope to make a run at state.

“Coming in their freshman year, nobody expected them [to qualify],” said Cochran. “It’s been very impressive.”

On the boys’ side, star performers include juniors Sam Beadles and Gabriel Bellot-McGrath. However, many eyes are also on the identical twins who have been wowing Class AA this year: freshmen Erek and Derek Cox.

These two have performed incredibly throughout the year, becoming arguably the two best swimmers on the squad as only freshmen. Derek usually swims the 200 yard medley relay, 200 yard freestyle, and 500 yard freestyle , and Erek usually swims the 100 yard freestyle, 200 yard freestyle relay, and 100 yard backstroke. The twins combine on the 400 yard freestyle relay, giving the squad at least one powerful swimmer in an astounding seven races.

“They are by far and away our strengths,” said Cochran.

This year the team’s big rivals are Marist and Woodward. The Cats are 1-1 against these teams, but they have much to look forward to given the close margins in every meet. In the Marist meet on January 15, the girls lost by only a single point, while the boys were defeated more handily. Although this meet was difficult, it did not crush the morale of these swimmers. They rebounded in a big way by defeating Woodward, their other rival, by a wide margin for both genders on January 22. These results bode well towards state, as the girls hope to emerge victorious for the second year in a row, and the boys push for a shot at a state title.