Sebastian Lucumi | staff writer
The Johnson swim team is set to finish the season at a final two-day tournament on Jan. 24 and 25.
The tournament, on both Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th will be the qualifying match for athletes to move on to district level competition. Swim Coach Jesse Snelson is confident that his team is well prepared for the upcoming meet.
“They’re all working very hard, and we have a very skilled group and a lot of different abilities on the team. I have a first period class, a group of really good swimmers and they really are swimming at a regional or state level and some at a national level, which is really good for us. It’s a lot of motivation. Our eighth period kids mainly just swim high school, but they’re working really hard too. They train hard for four days of the week, as soon as we get [to the pool] we get them in immediately. As their season has progressed, they’ve gotten much better. They can see that their times are dropping, they’re just trying to get ready for district,” Snelson said.
Things have been going well for the team, and both the team and Snelson have been pleased with the results of their training.
“[The season is going] very well, I’m really happy with what’s going on right now. I’m real happy with how things are turning,” Snelson said.
The work of the team has paid off, according to Snelson, in preparing the team for great performance. However, Snelson and the team are still proceeding skeptically of the turnout.
“[We’re] cautiously optimistic. It could be very fantastic; the best season we’ve ever had could finish nicely. We gotta make sure dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. We don’t have any queues or any false starts, play the game wisely. There’s a lot of gamesmanship at the districts with the other teams. We just need to make sure we concentrate and focus on what we’re supposed to be doing, and we have a game plan, and if we follow through with the game plan we’ll be alright,” Snelson said.
The competition proves strenuous because the preliminary matches are the day before the finals, making the athletic endurance of the swimmers very important. Furthermore, Snelson has expressed some worry over the quality of the other swim teams, however, he remains confident in the conviction of his swimmers’ skills.
“On the 24th and 25th of January is are finals meet. Friday will be the prelims and Saturday will be the finals meet. That takes us beyond that to the top six in the district, and that’s for relays and individual events and those guys will move on to regionals in February and it’s the same format of prelim and format. What they’re doing is they’re trying to mock state level competitions, where is its one day of prelims and finals the next day. Every meet gets them prepped: we have the first course of the meet, which is called the diving break and then they have individual events that follow that, then relays, then more individual events, and then more relays. It’s ingenious how they’ve structured the competitions, it’s really well thought out,” Snelson said. “We’re hoping we can get three relays out to states, which is looking very good, if you look at the times across the state. The two freestyle relay is pretty much on par and looking good. The four relay is the one we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Our biggest competitors are Churchill and Reagan right now. Churchill boys team is very strong, Reagan has a well rounded team of both boys and girls. Knock on wood, cross our fingers, hope everything goes to plan.”
Snelson expects many of swimmers to make the cut, but is hopeful that more make it rather than less, as this could be imperative to the school’s overall performance.
“I’d like to have a boy, maybe a relay, get out to state. If you can get a relay out, it’s always exciting. The girls will get some relays out, it’s just how many and how many make it for individual events. The more you get into state, the better chance you have of doing well at state for overall points and representing our school,” Snelson said.
With both Snelson and the individual swimmers so close to the tournament at the end of the month, the team is asking for more support from the school.
“Well we always feel like we’re the forgotten sport here at Johnson because we train off campus. People here don’t see too much of us. First period we’re coming to school, eighth period we leave school and we’re over at the pool before the end of school. So people see us on campus wearing our t-shirts, but we don’t have too much of a crowd that follows us. It’s mainly just the relatives and family. We would love it if we could have people from school like classmates, students, teachers, staff, and faculty that would come to a couple meets, regional, district, or state. I think that would really get the guys and girls really revved up. It’s exciting this time of year, meets the athletes, are in the peak of condition and they go fast,” Snelson said.