It was an unusual first month of the season for the Toll Gate swimming team. The Titans typically have a meet or two in December. This year, they were scheduled to swim against Rogers before the holidays, but the Vikings didn’t field a team so that meet was canceled.
The calendar was wide open. Toll Gate didn’t have its first meet of the season until Thursday, when it hosted South Kingstown.
“My girls have had a lot of practice,” said head coach Mike Seidenberg.
Toll Gate lost to the Rebels 57-37, but there were some signs that good things are ahead for the team. And regardless of the result, it was just good to get in the pool.
“It was nice to work with the girls and try to really get them ready – that was the good thing about it,” Seidenberg said of the month without meets. “The bad thing is I didn’t know what they could do. But we found out today.”
The numbers are down a bit for the Titans this season, with only 14 swimmers on the roster. On the bright side, only one of the 14 is a senior, and many of the younger swimmers made a lot of waves last year.
“We’re going to plug away and do the best we can as we get into these meets,” Seidenberg said. “We’re looking to grow. I look it as a rebuilding year. Hopefully we can add to the numbers next year. But we’re also going to try to be competitive as we go along and see if we can match what we did last year at the end of the season.”
The Titans were led in Thursday’s meet by sophomore Mikayla Rogers and juniors Molly Turner and Nina Yu.
Rogers grabbed first-place finishes with strong performances in the 100 butterfly and the 400 freestyle. She finished the 100 fly in 1:14.78 and the 400 free in 5:05.05.
Yu took first in the 100 backstroke in 1:23.81, while Turner placed first in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:35.54.
The Titans also picked up a win from their 400 free relay team of Rogers, Yu, Emily Smith and Mackenzie Kelly.
“I think a lot of them were really ready to go,” Seidenberg said. “They wanted to come out here and get it done.”
Those strong performance came from a nucleus that’s hoping to lead the Titans this season.
As a freshman, Rogers was the team’s top performer in the Division II championships, and she placed sixth in the 500 free at the state meet. Kelly also shined as a freshman, taking third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 breast at the division championships. Yu, Turner and Smith also had postseason success last year.
“They’re coming back and they’re building off their success from last year,” Seidenberg said. “I think they’re already looking good. We’re looking to see if they can do a little better than last year. That’s really all you can ask, is to get that improvement as we go along.”
The Titans will also be looking for improvement from some swimmers who don’t have quite as much experience under their belts. In Thursday’s meet, junior Courtney Caesar, junior Rachel Yorston, sophomore Meg Gilbar and junior Jamie Lavoie all got a shot in individual events.
Together, the Titans will keep working as their season finally gets into full swing.
“It gets pretty busy now,” Seidenberg said. “We have basically a meet or two every week. We have goals that we need to strive for and reach for still. We’ll keep shooting for them.”
Toll Gate will be back at McDermott on Thursday to swim against Cranston East at 5:30 p.m.