Special to the Times
The Valdosta High School swim teams, nicknamed the Catfish, overcame some challenges during their third season of competitive swimming, under the instruction of head coach Brandon Joiner and assistant coach Carmen Batch.
The Catfish finished fifth at the Region 1-AAAAAA swim meet at South Georgia College in Douglas.
The combination of entering a new region and losing many key swimmers from the previous year were challenges for the Catfish this year. The members of the Catfish know that their latest season was a building year, but they feel every bit of their hard work was worth it in order to create a solid foundation for the 2013-14 season.
“I’m really proud of the swimmers that stuck with us throughout the year,” Joiner said. “I’ve got a really good group of kids. I’ve got some really good seniors that are leaving us, and I’ve got a really good group of freshmen this year. And I hope that we get some freshmen next year that are just as capable as the freshmen that we had this year. I think if we continue to grow the way we’ve been growing, we’re going to have something special there at Valdosta.”
In years past, Valdosta High School has been a part of Region 1-AAAAA. The Catfish have had an individual region champion their first two competitive seasons of swimming. Now that Valdosta has joined Region 1-AAAAAA, they are up against seven teams, instead of five. The two new teams in Region 1, Brunswick and Camden, have stiffened the swimming competition.
“Camden, especially, has made the region competition much more intense. The pressure to qualify and perform is at a much greater level compared to last year, due to the addition of teams at the region meet,” team captain McClain Talley said.
At the Region 1 meet, freshman Cecilia Carroll finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke. The girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay team, consisting of Carroll, Olivia Clements, Samantha Kielma and Talley, finished third. Team captain Austin Wallace finished third in the 100-yard freestyle. Many other Catfish added to the team’s success by accumulating points in their events. The team managed to earn enough points to give them fifth place overall.
“For what we’re doing, with the amount of swimmers that we have, I’m pretty satisfied,” Joiner said. “They’ve worked their tails off. They’ve given me everything I’ve asked of them. They’re just an awesome group of kids. They’ll do just about whatever you ask them to do, and won’t complain about it too much either.”
The members of the Valdosta girls swim team are: McClain Talley, Olivia Clements, Claire Kirkpatrick, Kate Ganas, Suzanne Alcidonice, Brooke McAllister, Tiffani Huff, Lexi Colbert, Maddy Wallace, Katelynn Kenworthy, Cecilia Carroll, Mary Talley, Lauren Pope, Samantha Kielma and Carly Loudermilk.
The members of the boys team are: Fowler Perry, David Posas, Austin Wallace, Clarke Wilson, Calvin Foster, Robbie Beeland and Chris Hanson.
Joiner says that many of his swimmers also compete in other sports. The swim team includes athletes who are also on the Valdosta track, cross country, soccer and baseball teams. Some of them swim year round. And according to their coach, all of them are good students.
“The swimmers that I have are all pretty much straight up athletes,” Joiner said. “I don’t think I have a kid on the team that wouldn’t make the honor roll. I don’t have to worry about their grades at all. They’re fantastic.”