A year after fielding a record-sized boys’ swimming and diving team, Manhattan High swim coach Jerry Carpenter is down to around 30 athletes this winter.
The loss of a large senior class and the addition of just two new freshmen has trimmed the roster down to a much more manageable number, making the logistics of practice and traveling to meets much simpler, at the cost of some depth.
“We always make it work, and we just deal with it and it works just fine,” Carpenter said. “But it is more challenging when you’ve got six or seven to a lane instead of three or four. It’s more crowded and more difficult.”
While he has less bodies in the pool, Carpenter did say this team will be stronger at the top, with senior Cameron Beauregard and junior Matt Bandy leading the way.
“Cameron’s become really fast, and Matt Bandy is really coming on, too,” Carpenter said. “For example, the 200 IM cut is like 2:10, and Cam at the end of the year last year was at 2:11. Coming into the season, he’s been 2:01 already, so it’s a huge difference.
“Matt’s times are unbelievable with the progression — the Marlins program is doing a really good job and it’s really helping the kids out.”
Carpenter also mentioned Xavier Hayden as a key to the team’s success this year.
“Xavier is really coming on, and he’ll just keep getting better as the year goes on,” Carpenter said. “But he made the decision to start training this fall, so he’s really stepped up.”
In diving, Manhattan returns three seniors, including Evan Olson, who took 11th at the state meet a year ago, as well as Nathan Mirts and Tre Gilmer.
While the team lacks depth at the moment, Carpenter said the young team will get there eventually.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are just kind of learning now,” he said. “But we have a lot of athletes that are picking things up pretty fast, so I’m excited about that. We’ll get better as the year goes on.”
The team does have several upperclassmen swimmers who decided not to swim this season, including two state qualifiers from last year in David Woods and Levi Jones, which leaves opportunity for other athletes.
“Tyler Belin was coming on at the end of the last year, and Nick Clark the same thing,” Carpenter said. “Derrek (Williams) has some skill, he’s another one, it’s just going to take some time. He’s been out of the water for a while. Casey Hoffman was really coming on at the end of last year and he’ll help us out in a big way. He’s just an athlete.
“We time trialed yesterday, and what we’re seeing is some guys that the 50s are pretty fast, but the 100, they’re dying.”
While Beauregard was at state last year, Carpenter raved about his improvement, indicating he would have the kind of times to put him in the upper echelon of swimmers in Class 6A.
“Our top end — we have some guys that are fast and will compete really well,” he said. “Where Cam’s at now, he’s a potential state finalist, top eight in the state in some of his events. We haven’t had that from a boy for a while.”
Carpenter said Beauregard will likely have to choose what events to swim at state because he’ll have qualifying times in more than the four-event maximum.
“During the season he’ll do a lot of different things, but at state he’s definitely going to have to make some decisions, because he’ll have multiple cuts,” he said. “And he’d really like to beat some school records, too. Some of them have been around a long time and he’d like to get after them.”
The swimming and diving team opens its season today in Topeka.