GRANVILLE – Experience can make a world of difference.
Watkins Memorial’s four senior boys on the swim team can step into the pool this season with confidence in themselves and their teammates. The oldest Warriors have improved their times and have one more chance to put the finishing touches on their careers.
“It’s nice to have people that you know will go out and swim hard,” said senior T.J. Miller, who is joined by classmates Skylar Chapman, Brian Wright and Marshall Grady. “We do have new swimmers, and they also are practicing hard. It is important to get to know them, so we can get to that point where we are trusting them as well as the older kids.”
The seniors’ presence will be critical for new coach Fay Barry as the rest of her team includes nine freshmen and sophomores. Barry swam while in high school at Reynoldsburg and has continued to swim recreationally since.
She already is using peer coaching that has worked well for her as the throws coach for the Watkins girls track team.
“I don’t at the moment have captains because I believe in senior leadership,” Barry said. “One of the ways to build a team is to have your upperclassmen work with your younger swimmers. I’m not in the water. I’m not demonstrating technique. They are the ones showing the technique. I am a big proponent of peer modeling and peer leadership helping to unify the team.”
Chapman is one of the top long-distance swimmers in Licking County, having already broken the school’s 500 freestyle record. He will be looking to lower that as he reaches mid-season form.
“My best is 5:54,” he said. “I am trying to aim for a 5:50. We haven’t done a (time trial) yet. We are trying to get back in shape.”
The foursome of Grady, Miller, Wright and the graduated Jacob Abram swam a season best in the 400 free relay during the Division I district meet a season ago, and Grady, Chapman and sophomore Jacob Raver return from the district-qualifying 200 medley relay.
The first few weeks will be used to gain experience in the pool for the younger Warriors. Barry will be mixing and matching relay combinations and using her young swimmers in a variety of areas to see where they might help.
“The way I coach is I am always looking at the end game,” Barry said. “The goal is what outcomes do we want to accomplish at the end of the season both individually and as a team. The lineups are going to be a reflection of that.”
The good news is most of the Warriors have at least swam in the summer for the Pataskala Porpoises and several with clubs while growing up, so they will not be intimidated when they line up beside some of central Ohio’s best.
“The boys and girls teams are very comfortable with each other,” Barry said. “I know certainly we’re excited to see what both teams can do with of course the young ones coming up and a good group of veterans.”