onvincing athletes to hone their swimming skills throughout the entire year wasn’t an easy sell for Whiteland coach Marci Whitford when she took the job two years ago.
However, the Warriors have started to buy in, and their newfound dedication is producing noteworthy results.
Both the girls and boys programs are coming off seasons in which they placed second in the Mid-State Conference meet and third at both the Johnson County meet and sectional.
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“It’s been the combination of a couple of things,” Whitford said. “Whiteland had a good foundation, but we didn’t have many swimmers swimming year-round. It was getting the kids to buy into the program and put higher expectations on themselves.
“And they’ve done it. They’ve done a fantastic job.”
The coach’s first order of business was to start a year-round junior program, Hypersonic Swimming, dedicated to Whiteland girls and boys ages 6 to 18.
Improving the swimming skills of those in the high school programs, as well those who could be Warriors in the future, is already paying dividends.
“Coming in, I wasn’t really the best swimmer, but Marci is the reason I got better and got fast,” said junior Brenden Gough, who swims the 200 and 500 freestyle for the Warriors. “Before high school, swimming was more of a casual thing, but I’ve grown into swimming year-round. I like it.”
The objective of spending time in the pool is twofold — lowering individual times through sheer repetition while also developing an improved interest in swimming within the community.
Whiteland’s 2015-16 girls roster included “four or five” freshmen. This season, 11 ninth-graders came out for the team. The Warrior boys graduated four seniors from last season, but brought in four freshmen anxious to start their varsity careers.
There are now 21 athletes on each team.
Victoria Petriskey, a senior who competes in three individual events for the Warriors (100 breaststroke and 50 and 100 freestyle), was beginning her sophomore season when Whitford became the Warriors’ coach.
She is encouraged by the direction of the program.
“It’s been really cool to watch our whole program improve,” she said. “(Whitford) is really focused on our speed in the water, which has made our program much stronger. It’s about lowering times.”
And about adding believers.
Whiteland gets numerous opportunities to do so this season, starting with the girls opener at home against Mooresville on Nov. 14. There’s also the county meet in December and a January schedule highlighted by the Mid-State Conference meet and a dual meet at home against county powerhouse Franklin.
The Warriors have qualified a girl and boy diver to the State Finals since Whitford became coach, but not an individual swimmer or relay team.
She’s hoping that changes this winter.
“We would like to get a relay or a swimmer or two to state this season,” Whitford said. “We have a very talented group of freshmen on the girls side, and with our boys our sophomore and junior groups are getting much better.”
As is the program as a whole.
A FASTER LANE
A look at some of the accomplishments of the Whiteland girls/boys swim programs during the 2016-17 season:
Mid-State Conference meet
Girls;Second (375 points)
Boys;Second (387 points)
Johnson County meet
Girls;Third (339 points)
Boys;Third (360 points)
Girls;Third (278 points)
Boys;Third (278 points)