It’s come down to one moment, one chance to qualify. No restarts or do overs. And for five young athletes on the West Point Swimming team, they want to make the most of it.
Saturday, Kelsey Redus, Isabel Facella, Jessica Farr, Abby Scott and alternate Katie Wilson will don their swimming caps and hit the pool at Courthouse Racquet and Fitness in Flowood for the MHSAA North State championships.
West Point, known for football and basketball prospects over the years, has had swimmers make it this far, but this is a first for these girls and they want to make the most of it.
“You have one chance to make a certain time to qualify for state,” Redus said. “Your on that one opportunity, so your going to be pushing yourself harder because you know that’s going to get you there to state.”
West Point qualified in three events, both Redus and Facella will be on the starting block in both the 50 and 100-freestyle and two of the four swimmers along with Farr and Scott in the 200-relay. All of them agreed it a was a goal from the start, not just to make it to North State but to the finals and bring home a championship.
To qualify for state, the girls need to finish in the top eight and touch the wall in less than 30.73 in the 50; 1:09.60 in the 100 and 2:08 in the 200-relay.
Most of the girls are first year swimmers, with a few, including Redus, who have been in the pool a few years prior with the Wave Runners, the junior team. Although it may not be as popular as the other team sports, such as football, baseball or basketball, the girls say they really enjoy it.
“It’s better than running,” said Farr who was first to answer.
“You don’t get hot,” added Redus.
“It’s a good exercise if you want to lose weight” said Scott. “It really pushes you and builds your muscles. It’s a good sport.”
Swimming for some can be grueling because it uses all of the body’s muscles at one time.
First year head coach Stephen Stockten said it takes a special type of athlete to be a competitive swimmer at the high school level.
“Your working a lot more muscles than in any other sport,” he said. “You’ve got to be in pretty good shape, your cardio has to be up. Other sports you get to rest, and in swimming if you rest, your going to sink.”
Training for a sport can be brutal, but for swimmers they do a little bit of everything from push-ups to commandos and even a rectangle, where they swim around the diameter of a pool, pushing off the wall with every turn. Despite the aching muscles, these girls enjoy being in the water.
Imagine yourself on the starting block, with seven other swimmers lined up along side of you. Screaming fans echoing inside, whistles and horns blaring from every direction. You have to block out all those distractions and stay focused on the race. Except when the coaches are telling you to pick it up.
“That’s one of the things I like about swimming,” Redus said. “Because when you hit the water, all you hear is splashing and for me, that’s a nice calming sound.”
Although swimming is mainly and individual sport, the team events seem to bring out the best in each other.
“It pushes you harder,” Wilson said. “But you know that your other teammates are there with you.”
Before the season started, Stockten said he had no expectations, but over the weeks of the season there was so much improvement by everyone on the team. He doesn’t want to take all the credit.
“I had a lot of help from the parents.” he said. “We have a tremendous amount of help from them.”
Even if West Point doesn’t come back home with any trophies or ribbons, Stockten says they’re going to make the most of the opportunity.
For the girls, not placing only means motivation to do better next season and over the course of their young careers. And if success continues to follow, West Point can add another championship trophy to it’s cases.View more articles in: