Lots of new faces are around the pool on the Manhattan girls swim and dive team. But they’ve blended right in.
“Our team is very unified,” senior Caroline Cassou said. “We like to work together, we like each other and we compete for the team, rather than individually, which is something I love about this team and, personally, I find really important in high school sports.”
The Indians finished in the middle of the pack in the Centennial League.
“We definitely had a bunch of beginner swimmers, but everybody definitely improved as a whole,” Cassou said.
A lot of those girls returned and are complemented by a class of 16 freshmen as well as a group of swimmers who previously swam only for the Manhattan Marlins.
“Having some swimmers (who) go year-round and then adding in returning swimmers (who) have a season under their belt just to remember technique and all that, definitely will help a lot,” Brown said.
Cassou is one of Manhattan’s leaders along with Lauren Casper and Grace Walker. Brown added that Vicky Bedros and Jennifer Nelson are among veterans who will make an impact, too.
Cassou is most excited about how the team has bonded and said it’s her favorite part of high school swimming.
“I love my teammates,” she said. “They’re really great friends of mine, and we all push each other to work harder.
Brown likes how the new girls and veterans have come together.
This year, the Indians want to win the Centennial League and score points at the 6A state meet, which didn’t happen last year.
“They worked very hard,” Brown said of last year’s group, “but when they only compete against kids who do nothing but swim year-round, it makes it difficult.”
Cassou and Brown are confident they will score points this year.
Cassou and Brown think the strongest events will be breaststroke, backstroke, distance and relays.
“We’ve got a pretty solid core to build our relays around,” Brown said. “Just even looking at our time trial times, I think when I added up our medley’s times for the first meet, we already had a state cut based on time trial times.”
Manhattan’s dive team is also relatively young, but head diving coach Al Days expects production from sophomore Jill Broxterman.
For the season, Days wants his divers to be able to execute between six and 11 dives and finish stong at the league meet.
He hopes they will be ready by Manhattan’s first home meet against Junction City, Lawrence Free State, Maize and Maize South on March 29.
The season begins at the Emporia Swim Invitational on Thursday.