The Granville swim teams have been two of the most dominant in the state over the past six seasons.
To stay at the top, the Blue Aces might be facing their biggest challenge yet. They, however, are well-prepared to meet it.
“Even the newer swimmers have really impressed me. There are not any that are at that critical beginning stage,” said Kelly Doner, who is coaching along with her husband, Brian. Kelly Doner most recently was an assistant in the program three seasons ago.
“Most Granville swimmers swim year-round, and that makes it easy on the coaches. It’s a nice-sized team this year. Maybe not as big when I was here before, but great potential.”
Granville hosts meets in the Mitchell Center at Denison University on Dec. 19 and Jan. 4. The Blue Aces’ first significant test comes Dec. 12 in the prestigious Ned Reeb Memorial at Ohio State.
Sophomore Sarah Martin is well on her way to becoming the next elite Granville swimmer after the graduation of Sydney King in 2014 and Abby Stone, who won the 100 backstroke state title a season ago. Martin is the only returnee from the fourth-place 200 medley relay, and she also placed 11th in the 200 free and 14th in the 100 butterfly.
“Sarah Martin is having a really phenomenal season in her club season so far, and I really think she is going to have a phenomenal high school season,” Doner said. “I think that is going to pull the other girls along. When you have that one that can lead, that pulls the rest of the team. We want to see where we can get at districts and hopefully move on.”
The Blue Aces have plenty of swimmers who have been waiting in the wings to replace the graduated seniors, who also included Paige Griesse, Maggie McGonagle and Lauren Rutherford.
Sophomore Alexa Specht and junior Grace Havens were district qualifiers in the 200 free, sophomore Sydney Bednarski and junior Brooke Kauchak in the 200 individual medley, seniors Bailey Bradshaw and Avery Bednarski in the 50 free, sophomore Emily Kauchak in the 100 fly, Bradshaw and Sydney Bednarski in the 100 free, Avery Bednarski and Emily Kauchak in the 500 free, Specht in the 100 back and Havens in the 100 breaststroke. The Blue Aces also swam all underclassmen in the district-qualifying 200 free relay.
Senior Colin McDermott and junior Rowan Moore are back to lead the boys after joining graduated standouts Timmy Spichiger and Grant Stahl on the state-qualifying 200 free relay.
McDermott is adding diving to his repertoire this season.
“He is my first diver, so I am really excited as a coach to have that,” Doner said.
Moore was a district placer in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. Other returning individual district qualifiers are sophomore Jesse Faler in the 200 IM and 500 free and classmate Nathan DeMent in the 100 back.
“The first week of practice I had one of the boys say practice isn’t hard enough,” Doner said. “That was really exciting for me to have someone say, ‘Push us. Push us.’ I want that.”