After a 10th-place finish at state that included 80 team points and four medals, the Manhattan High girls’ swimming and diving team gets its season rolling today and Thursday at Emporia.
With so many underclassmen at state last year, head coach Jerry Carpenter is excited to see improvement this year.
“We’ve got a good group coming back — most everybody coming back from our group at the state meet last year,” he said. “So it’s a good thing, and I’m excited about our prospects and we have some good young girls that are coming in as well.”
Some of Manhattan’s top swimmers this season include those who made it to state last year, Makayla Walters, Alana Bucholtz and Mariah Scipio. Others include Hannah Funk and Katie Bussman, who contributed on relays. Sam Gray is the top returning diver.
Carpenter said this year’s squad isn’t as large as last year’s, which helps solve some logistical problems.
“We’re not quite as big as we were last year,” he said. “But we’re still just under 60, which is still a big group. It’s a little more manageable this year. We’re still crowded, but nothing like last year.”
Carpenter said last year’s big group was a positive, and with more experienced girls returning, should lead to good things this year.
“One problem we have now, because we had all those girls last year, I’ve got a lot more experienced girls back, which means there are more girls over in my lanes,” Carpenter said. “My lanes are really full and the beginning girls in the six-lane pool aren’t quite as full.
“It’s a very good problem to have.”
While the swimming season gets underway this week, the swimmers will have to try and keep normal practices going over spring break the following week, despite many swimmers taking trips with families and doing other things that week. Carpenter said lack of practice becomes even more of an issue because winter weather delayed the start of practices two weeks ago.
“It’s a challenge, because it comes so fast, and then when we started two weeks ago, because of the threat of weather, we weren’t allowed to practice the first two days,” he said. “We lost Monday and Tuesday, and two days is huge this time of year. It is what it is, you make do with what you can and go for it.”
The Indians have six home meets this year, which helps Carpenter get all of his team in the pool competing.
“The format that I’ve set up for home meets, is I allow unlimited entries,” he said. “If we have 10 girls in the 100 breast, so be it. They can still only do two individuals, but it allows the girls to do a lot of different things. It’s very much an advantage to be at home and take care of that.”
Carpenter said the goal for the season remains the same as it is every year.
“Our goal is always to qualify as many people as we can for state,” he said. “We want to try to get our relays in and take a run at the league title, and see how much noise we can make at state.”