The Glendale High School girls’ swimming team is perennially one of the best in the area, and this year is no exception — even after losing three of its best swimmers.
A year ago, the storyline centered on Gretchen Stein, Anna Leonard and Sarah Powell as all three reached the state meet and led Glendale to a second-place finish behind Columbia Rock Bridge. In fact, Stein was the only female swimmer in the Springfield area to win at state last year, doing so in the 200 freestyle. Leonard went on to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Glendale coach Steve Boyce naturally thought it would be difficult to replace such talent. But the transition has been smoother than he envisioned.
Four swimmers already have made a huge contribution. Freshmen Macie Beairsto and Kaylee Sisson, along with sophomore Madeline Nelson and junior Nikki Sisson, have qualified for the state meet. Beairsto has yet to be beaten in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
“It makes me feel good,” Bearisto said of her recent wins at the Ozarks Invitational, where she qualified for state with three seconds to spare in each event. “It makes me work harder to help support the team. I push myself more and more with every race I swim.”
Boyce said he is impressed with his team, especially the freshmen, saying they contribute to the team’s speed.
“Macie’s speed in everything she swims is phenomenal, and that’s why she hasn’t lost the 200 free or 100 fly all season long,” Boyce said. “As a freshman, she’s broken some meet records which were pretty impressive.”
Fellow freshman Kaylee Sisson also is gaining confidence. She won the Ozarks Invitational in the 100 backstroke, qualifying for state by a second. She also was fourth in the 50 freestyle. Sisson said she would like to break the one-minute mark at state in the backstroke event but would be satisfied if she medaled.
“We have to work hard every day,” Sisson said. “We really want to succeed this year at state.”
Glendale has its sights set on a big performance at state, scheduled for Feb. 15-16 in St. Peters.
So far this season, the Lady Falcons have won the Ozarks Invitational with 424 points, far better than Blue Springs, which finished with 340 points. The Falcons swam nine state qualifying times at the meet, and Boyce hopes some of his sophomores can qualify at the Springfield Invitational, scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Foster Natatorium. This will be one of the last chances to qualify for state.
The time standards to qualify for state have progressively gotten faster. The number of qualifiers for this time of year is almost half of that in previous seasons, Boyce said.
Overall, the team’s hidden strength is the ability for each teammate to push another to be better.
“The Glendale team is — I love my team,” Nikki Sisson said. “We’re such a close family and everyone’s so supportive of one another.”