GRAFTON—This year’s swimming ‘Cats return seven veterans, along with eight newcomers for head coach Heather England.
The Bearcats will be led by second year co-captains, seniors Payton England and Natalie Satterfield, along with seniors Blaise Nibert and Calvin Wise.
Juniors Jocelyn Countryman, Luke Nibert and Caroline Maier are also returning lettermen who will be expected to score some points in the water for the ‘Cats this season.
The team has been practicing since October 22, and they are already making good progress. Since only two of the eight new swimmers have ever been in a competitive swim meet (Maddy Countryman and Skylar Wooddell; both are former Grafton Gator swimmers), there is a huge amount of work to do.
“We have been spending a lot of time these first few weeks on proper technique in a couple of different strokes, as well as how to properly dive and turn at the wall,” said returning head coach Heather England. “For anyone who is just beginning to swim competitively for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming, but with the help of their teammates and coaches, these kids have stepped up and have shown they are ready for the challenge.”
With veterans such as England, Satterfield, Nibert and Wise returning this season, Coach England will have great leadership and swimmers that the younger athletes can model.
“It will take some time, but I have told each of them to just work hard in practice but also have fun and don’t stress,” said Coach England. “I always tell them don’t give up! Swimming is a very rewarding sport because instead of constantly focusing on beating everyone else, or winning vs losing, you can set your own goals, and on meet day focus on turning in a personal best time for you on that day.”
“If you begin the season with that mindset of beating your own best time each race, then by the end of the year, you will have most likely moved up some spots or even won some races along the way. If everyone on the team sets these personal goals, then the team outcome will always be positive,” she added.
The GHS swim roster includes Payton England (12), Natalie Satterfield (12), Sydney Puchalski (12), Alison Utter (12), Calvin Wise (12), Blaise Nibert (12), Matt Cather (12), Luke Nibert (11), Jocelyn Countryman (11), Caroline Maier (11), Hannah Moats (10), Madelyn Countryman (10), Katie Scherzinger (10), Skylar Wooddell (10) and Emily Cather (9).
The Bearcats held their first meet of the season last Wednesday night, in Elkins, against Philip Barbour and Elkins.
The meets are scored as head-to-head matchups between teams, so in that meet the Bearcats lost to Elkins 77—198 (who also beat PB), but recorded their first team win of the season as they beat PB 119—98.
The only individual first-place finisher on the night was Payton England who won the 50 yard freestyle.
The Cats did have second-place individual finishes including Calvin Wise in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle, Natalie Satterfield in the 50 free and 100 back, and Jocelyn Countryman in the 200 Individual Medley.
The Boys 200 yd Free Relay team of Wise, L. Nibert, B. Nibert and Matt Cather also took first place.
“It is worth noting that even with several new swimmers in this meet, there were zero disqualifications credited to the Bearcats,” said England. “Congrats on a great first showing and keep up the good work.”