North Farmington is still a very talented team in girls swimming and diving, even if the dual-meet record doesn’t reflect it.
After winning three straight OAA division titles, the Raiders have moved to the top tier and the Red Division with some of the best teams in Oakland County.
North went head-to-head with two of them – Birmingham Seaholm and Rochester Adams – in its first four meets and is 1-3 overall.
“If you just look at our record, you might be a little unimpressed,” coach Mike Harfoot said. “Across the board, we’re swimming faster than we were at this point last year.
“We only lost three duals meets in three years. Coming into this year, when we weren’t favored, it’s something new for the kids. But it’s something positive, too.
“When you swim against good competition, it’s going to make you better. Yeah, we may lose some dual meets, but I’m okay with that. It’s going to make our kids better by facing stiffer competition.”
After winning the OAA Blue Division championship in 2012, the Raiders won back-to-back titles the previous two years in the OAA White.
They would be a contender if not the outright favorite again if they had stayed in that division.
“The Red Division is where we belong,” Harfoot said. “We worked our way up and built the program back up.
“To make it into the Red Division and belong there says a lot about the kids and how hard they’ve worked the last couple years.”
North has two of the state’s best swimmers in senior Emma Bradley and junior Hannah Chao. Both were on the all-area second team last year.
Bradley was the OAA White champ in the 200 and 500 freestyle. She was the Division 2 state runner-up in the 500 and was 10th in the 200.
Chao, who has the school record of 57.66 in the backstroke, won that event in the division meet and was second in the 50 freestyle. She was seventh and 13th in the state, respectively.
“They’ll score well at the state and league meets,” Harfoot said. “Emma is looking to be a state champion in the 500 and have her best time. Hopefully, that places her there.
“Hannah would like to be all-state again in the backstroke. She’s very versatile. We’re not sure what the second event will be. Hannah has done well in the 50 free and is a very fast IMer.”
The Raiders also return all-area, first-team diver Erin Gold. The junior hit a high score of 371.40 last year and was a state qualifier.
“She worked really hard over the summer on some higher difficulty dives that are going to get her more points at the league and regional meets,” Harfoot said.
Juniors Summer Edwards and Katy Fedurek and sophomore Aubrey East are talented athletes, too, and will complement Bradley and Chao.
“They’re very solid swimmers, good trainers,” Harfoot said. “They’re not just kids who can swim one or two events. They can swim across the board almost any event, sprint as well as 500.”
The senior captains are Bradley, Emma Green, Novena Petracaj and Veronica Tchernychouk.
Good support group
They will provide quality depth as will seniors Emily Lerner and Elissa Loch, juniors Caroline Adams and Abigail Campbell and sophomores Edie Lerner and Jillian Brown.
The top newcomer is freshman Julianna Petrak, who already has gone 1:10 in the breaststroke and 58 seconds in the 100 freestyle.
“She’s another kid we can put in six or seven events and know she’s going to have solid swims,” Harfoot said.
“We graduated a lot of talent. It’s a great opportunity for other kids to step in and fill varsity spots and show they can do the job.”
The Raiders have another good diver in junior Kelly Shrobree, who hopes to qualify for the state meet again.
‘Best finish’ is goal
North’s other division dual thus far was with Lake Orion. The one victory was in a crossover meet with Farmington. The Raiders will face Troy, Groves and Clarkston in upcoming Red Division meets.
“It’s a little different this year,” Harfoot said. “Realistically, we know Adams and Seaholm are a step ahead of us. But we’re in the mix with the next four teams.
“We look to compete with the next tier of teams and show we do belong. It’ll be fun to see how high we can finish in the Red Division.”
North’s previous best was sixth place when former University of Virginia and Olympic swimmer Katya Bachrouche was part of the team.
“Our goal isn’t fifth place but to have our best finish in the Red Division,” Harfoot said. “That would be quite an accomplishment for the ladies.”
Back home soon?
The Raiders have been without access to their pool for several weeks. The facility is being repaired after the drop ceiling fell into the pool.
The team has been practicing at Farmington High School in the evenings. Harfoot hopes to be back in the North pool next week.
“The girls have done a nice job of making the best of the situation,” he said. “The Farmington High team has been great, working with us to give us some practice time.”