Bearcat swimmers ready to dive into 2021 season


GRAFTON—On Friday, the Grafton High School swim team finished up a full week of practice in the water at Alderson Broaddus University in preparation for their first meet of the season on March 16.

Head Coach Heather England will be fielding a small squad this year with just seven girls and one boy, but has been pleased with the effort she’s seen from her swimmers thus far in practice and conditioning.

On the girls’ side, senior captain Skylar Wooddell will lead the Bearcats this season, and England states that Wooddell “has been showing improved speed in her freestyle and butterfly strokes so far in practice.”

Junior Frederique Maloley, who is new to the team but not new to swimming - she was a Grafton Gator for several years - is showing progress every day and building on her already solid technique. England emphasized that Maloley “has a lot of power going through the water and is learning to optimize it. She will most likely swim in the 50 free sprint as well as participate in some breaststroke and fly events.”

Sophomores Jordan “Jeff” Niggemyer and Bethany Lipscomb have been working hard on technique and endurance recently and look to compete in both the freestyle and backstroke events.

Freshmen Katie Novisky and Jerra Halbritter are also solid additions to the team as both have several years of summer league seasons under their belts, and they will continue working to gain more endurance in their respective events. Novisky will be the Bearcats’ distance swimmer in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, while Halbritter will most likely swim a combination of fly and free events.

Freshman newcomer Lydia Ward rounds out the girls’ roster and is a hard worker who hasn’t had a lot of competition experience but is “learning more with every practice, putting in the work,” and according to Coach England, “is always the first to volunteer to try something new.”

Sophomore Will Angus returns as the only male swimmer for Grafton, but towards the end of last season, was still turning in personal best times and has been training hard in the offseason in hopes of earning a berth at the state swim meet this year.

And in his second season on the Bearcats’ staff, assistant coach Luke Ulizzi continues to train his swimmers hard with conditioning and technique drills.

As their shortened season approaches, Grafton will only have four meets prior to the regional meet on April 10th and all of those will all be held at the pool at Alderson Broaddus. The state meet will follow and is scheduled for April 20-21 at the new aquatic center in Morgantown.

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