'Canes' swimmers getting their feet wet
Headlined by a new head coach and the graduation of some of its better swimmers from a year ago, there is no question that the Warwick Vets swimming team is in transition.
But so far, even through an 0-2 start, improvement has been there. With a whole group of new swimmers – along with one top-level swimmer – that’s really all the team is hoping for this season.
The ’Canes dropped their first meet of the year last Wednesday 48-18 to North Providence before falling 79-12 to defending Division III champion Smithfield on Monday.
And even just from one meet to the next, Vets took a step in the right direction.
“The girls are really improving though, just from our first meet when we had four girls,” first-year head coach Shon Campbell, who took over for Shana O’Connor, said on Monday. “Today we had eight compete. We almost filled all the events. We’re just a work in progress. I’m not even really worried about times right now. I’m just trying to get girls to compete and learn strokes.”
Campbell was the head coach of the Pilgrim boys’ swimming team a few years ago before the program was cut, and he’s hoping to bring the ’Canes up to relevancy.
It’s going to be a process.
Vets was unable to fill three events against Smithfield, after leaving eight events empty against North Providence.
On Monday, the ’Canes didn’t compete in the 200 individual medley, the 100 breaststroke and the 400 free relay.
“I do have the girls on roster, but at the same time they need to be confident in their swim strokes to compete,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to set them up for failure.”
Luckily, there is one swimmer who will help ease some of the tough times.
Junior Katie Evans returns to the team after a strong sophomore season that saw her come in third in the class meet in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 500 free.
This year, Campbell thinks the sky is the limit for Evans.
“Katie is a very diverse swimmer,” Campbell said. “She has all four strokes, she’s awesome in the relays, to anchor the relays. She’s an excellent teacher as well. She’s been helping the girls with turns, dives. Just a great captain.”
Over the weekend, with Vets competing in the Bay View Invitational, Evans’ times were in line with some of the better swimmers in the state. On Monday, she came in second in the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle.
“She’s definitely a top-five to 10 swimmer in the state, in my eyes,” Campbell said. “We’ll see how the season goes.”
After Evans, the rest of the team is trying to find its way.
Freshman Alyssa Flanagan has already made great strides in the freestyle events, and Campbell envisions her as a strong swimmer down the line.
The sophomore class also has some talent, with Tonya Hartmann, Rebecca Beer and Laura Paulin leading the way.
All three of those girls, as well as Flanagan, competed on Monday.
“They’ve been awesome,” Campbell said. “They’ve really progressed. I’ve seen dramatic changes from them.”
Vets’ next meet is this Friday at McDermott Pool against Classical at 5:30 p.m.
And the ’Canes are simply hoping it will be another day in which they get a little bit better for the long run.
“We’re just taking baby steps,” Campbell said. “Let’s compete, let’s finish, let’s have a good time and let’s learn some strokes.”