The North Lincoln Knightsâ€™ swimming program is off to a fast start under head coach Libby Fletcher.
Last season, the swim team struggled to fill events, this season they were conference champions. Aiding the Knights along the way was the fact they had 32 swimmers, which is exactly double the number of team members last year.
â€œThat way we could fill so many more events. We were so much more competitive and that was one of the reasons why we were able to be conference champs,â€ Fletcher said.
Progress is measured a step at a time. Judging by the improvement they made in just one season, the Knights are well on their way to establishing a solid program.
The Southern Foothills 1A Conference features only three swim teams, but North Lincoln proved to be better than both Hendersonville and Highland Tech this past season.
We were just thrilled. It was just very exciting to be able to swim all the events. It was great and with the exception of one, the boys and girls were conference champs in all relay events. We also won several individual events,â€ Fletcher said.
Another indicator of the teamâ€™s growth was the seven entries they had in this yearâ€™s state swim meet. Kelsey Lee, Kyle Wilkinson, Jenny Boyle, Sean Bertran, Collin Murdock, Nickele Gates, Mark Lambert, Nicole Baxter and Sara Edwards all qualified. The Knights participated in three relay events and four individual ones.
In 2004 North only had two entries into the state competition.
Faring the best was the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Baxter, Boyle, Edwards and Lee. They finished in 15th place after advancing to the final rounds. Fletcher was proud of their performance.
â€œThey had their best time, which is really awesome. They had a good time at the conference meet, but they had an even better time at the state,â€ she said.
The coach felt the two â€˜Dâ€™s were what set them apart.
â€œDedication and determination. Theyâ€™re all very good swimmers and all were very dedicated to doing their best,â€ Fletcher said.
Fletcher was very grateful for all the support the team felt.
â€œWeâ€™re very pleased with the support we get from the administration, the athletic director and the parents. Weâ€™ll enter a new conference next year and we hope to remain competitive,â€ she said.
When asked to reflect on the season, Fletcher felt her and Missy Wilkinson, the assistant coach, had a nice blend of veterans and young swimmers.
â€œWe had some more experienced swimmers. A lot of the freshman added to the depth of the team. The maturity and dedication of our returning swimmers was another key to our success this year.â€
by John Mark Brooks