Ken Sygit has a unique challenge on his hands.
The St. Clair High School girls swimming coach has arguably the Blue Water Area’s best swim team. But that team still has several holes to fill.
The Saints graduated four state meet qualifiers last year — Meghan Lamb, Lena Szuminski, Katie Kennedy and Ashley Jones, but return a solid core that should challenge again for a Macomb Area Conference Blue Division championship.
“I’d like to improve and get as many back to states this year as we can,” Sygit said. “We want to continue building momentum. We had an extremely great front line last year because we had seniors.
“We had a bunch of seniors that put in the time to be strong upfront. I’d like to be strong up the middle this year. I’m excited for them. It’s a challenge to top last year.”
The Saints do return several key performers including Grace Shinske, Alexis Smith and Heidi Likins and should be in the thick of the race for area bragging rights.
“The workouts we have had have been exceptional,” Sygit said. “They are clicking very fast. They have learned from previous years how we work and they have come together and taken off. Our numbers are starting to grow.
“We have 25 girls now. I remember three years ago we only had eight. I’m excited to see what happens.”
Because of their past success, St. Clair has been moved up to the White Division, where they will see rival Marysville.
They Vikings return several strong swimmers, including Allison Zhang, Soyoung Douglas and Liz Sturtridge.
“I have a pretty big group of seniors this year,” Marysville coach Julie Rogers said. “It’s a talented group. They are experienced and solid. They know what they are doing. That will be a big difference.”
Port Huron and Marine City meanwhile will square off in the MAC Blue Division. Port Huron returns Hannah Eastman, Sami Mills and Olivia Reinhardt while Marine City returns Jessica Haehnle, Amber Johnston and Erika Calu.
“I am excited,” Port Huron coach Kyle Doty said. “In my opinion we have the best athletes in the area as a team. The conditioning is going to be crucial. I think we can be very strong in the area. If we put the pool time in, we will be there.”
“We will hold our own, that’s for sure,” Marine City coach Sarah Blackstock said. “I’m hoping we will take a step forward.”