With a large group of returners from last season, Manhattan High girls swimming coach Jerry Carpenter thinks his team could have a shot at winning another Centennial League title.
The Indians will kick-off the season on Thursday with a meet at Emporia before taking an entire week off for spring break. The Indians will debut at home on March 28 at the Kansas State Natatorium.
Carpenter said the schedule is a challenge, but he is excited to for this group to get going.
“We just get going with two weeks and there is a meet and boom, it’s spring break, and several will be gone and that’s no fun,” he said. “But we return several state qualifiers and several of our relay girls and Katy Van Nevel from diving, so we come back pretty strong this year.”
One of the biggest challenges for the team this year will be figuring out how to get all the girls in the pool.
Carpenter said the team has its biggest number of girls out that he has ever seen.
“In addition to the strong swimmers we returned, we have about 50 new swimmers, and we have 74 total swimmers and divers,” he said. “We have around 18 seniors, 19 juniors, 25 sophomores and 12 freshman — but it’s a great bunch of girls and they have been hard working and a lot of fun.”
Carpenter said he credits the veterans on the team with bringing in so many new girls.
“Some of our girls were really talking things up and doing some verbal recruiting and talking about the sport and how fun it is,” he said. “I think word-of-mouth drew a lot of people in.”
Carpenter said one of the biggest challenges of the large group will be getting everyone a lane at the natatorium and, for the first time in his career, choosing who gets to go to the tournaments.
“It’s a great group of young ladies, and they are hard workers and have been diligent and working a lot. “It’s a challenge to find lane space some times, especially when the (Manhattan) Marlins are there, and with transportation we can never get two buses for away meets, so it will be a selection process that I’ve never faced before.
“But the good thing is we swim at home several times, and everyone gets to go there.”
The Indians will have four different meets at home this season, including one the week before the Centennial League meet.