Beechwood coach Chris Konerman knows it’s going to be an easier day when twins Mollie and Morgan Bushelman wear different swim caps in the pool.
“I hope they wear different colored caps, because I can’t tell them apart,” Konerman said of the junior sisters. “The girls look exactly the same.”
The Bushelmans are one of two sets of twins and five sets of siblings on the Beechwood swimming and diving team. Most everybody goes by first names around the Tigers. Otherwise, a call for Anderson, Laird, Shoyat or Watkins may bring a response from two people.
“It definitely makes it interesting,” Konerman said. “It’s a fun group, and I think we’re going to have a good year.”
The Tigers are annual contenders for the Region 4 combined team crown, and threats at state. They finished third combined last season at the regional meet (the girls were third, the boys seventh) at Silverlake behind champion Highlands and runner-up Dixie Heights. The Tigers are former combined team champions.
Mollie Bushelman, Jordan Carman, Abby Shoyat and Bray Zimmerman are returning state qualifiers for the girls. They were second in the regional 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relays. Bushelman was second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 individual medley. Zimmerman was second in the regional 50 freestyle and third in the 100 free. Carman was third in the 100 breaststroke.
Beechwood was 15th in the combined standings at the state meet in Louisville, second among local teams. The Tigers have enjoyed previous top-10 state finishes.
Konerman is new to the Tigers’ tradition of excellence, with a desire to keep things on the uptick in his second season. What isn’t new to the 34-year YMCA coach is being in a family-oriented swimming setting such as the one he enjoys at Beechwood.
Konerman and his entire family were inducted into the Northern Kentucky Swim League Hall of Fame in 2012. The Konerman Family plaque hangs on the NKSL Wall of Fame, honoring 40 years of service to the sport. This is Konerman’s second high school coaching stint. He started the program at Ryle.
At Beechwood, the coach would love to see the Tigers return to the very top of the combined team standings in Region 4. They are two meets into the season, with a second-place girls’ finish at the eight-team Scott Invite.
“I like the fact that we’re experienced, now. All of our state swimmers (except one) are back,” said Konerman, aided by diving coach Katie Barber. “I thought we gained a lot of experience at the regional meet and state.”
Among the girls’ top divers are Darby Emerson and Abby Miller, eighth at the regional and 12th at state.
The boys lost state champion swimmer Austin Haney, but return Max Shoyat, who had three top-10 regional finishes. They are awaiting the return of swimmers such as regional placer Grant Lange, who recently ended the season for the football team.