Youthful energy highlights meet

Youthful energy highlights meet

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Youthful energy highlights meet

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If Wednesday evening’s dual meet between Florida High and Maclay School looked and sounded like an age-group swim meet, there is a good reason why.

Between the two programs, there seemed to be almost as many middle-school swimmers participating as there were high-school competitors.

The youthful energy from both teams brought a welcome show of sportsmanship and created a feel-good atmosphere at the meet held on Maclay’s campus. The Marauders won both the girls’ and boys’ competitions, but every swimmer was greeted with a hearty round of cheers at the finish of each race.

“It’s a great group,” said first-year Maclay coach Allison Retotar. “They are enthusiastic about swimming and they cheer for their teammates. They’re great with sportsmanship.”

The same could be said of the Seminoles, who feature 30 new swimmers in the program this year. Florida High coach Patrick Walker said most of those newcomers have never participated in any sport before.

Those new additions have only practiced for a month, yet they still come up for air at the end of each race with a grin on their faces.

“We do a lot of coaching,” Walker said. “We focus on getting the technique first and then working on conditioning.

“It makes it a lot of fun to coach,” he added. “It inspires us.”

Two of the Seminoles’ veteran swimmers – senior Megan Walker and junior Cody O’Byrne – had solid showings against the Marauders.

O’Byrne placed second in two individual events behind standout Maclay junior Josh Cottle in the 200 IM and 400 free. Florida High’s Jason Arthmann (200 free) and Katherine Falvey (50 free) also won individual events.

Walker, a two-time All-Big Bend selection, has been battling a back injury for three years that has hampered her progress. She won two individual events (200 free, 100 back) but her coach – and father – said she was feeling the effects of the work afterward.

“She’s learning to adapt and adjust to the pain issue,” Patrick Walker said. “We’re responding to her symptoms and trying to be more proactive to what’s going on.

“The thing we’re doing is trying to focus on getting her ready for districts. It’s still tender.”

The Marauders feature a strong presence of middle-school swimmers as well. A handful of them brought plenty of year-round club experience with them to the Maclay program.

Middle-schoolers Charlie Gallagher (first place in the 100 back and 100 fly) and Rafi Chambasian (first place in the 100 breast and second in the 400 free) were among the young standouts for Maclay.

In addition to Gallagher, Maclay had four swimmers win two individual events: Cottle (200 IM, 400 free), Kristen Sweeney (200 IM, 400 free) Charles Minter (50 free, 100 free) and Caty Hinson (100 fly, 100 breast).

Ezinne Emenike (100 free) also posted an individual win for Maclay.

The Marauders won the girls’ competition 189-97 and the boys’ competition 165-112.

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