The 2014 high school swim season will open for both Fort Mill and Nation Ford on Aug. 23 when they head south for the Augusta Invitational in North Augusta.
Fort Mill looks to win its third straight and again looks to make a strong run in the state meet later this year.
“We are going to have a strong team, both boys and girls,” said Jackets’ head coach Cindy Van Buskirk.
Fort Mill only lost seven swimmers to graduation as both the boys’ and girls’ squads come off finishing third in the state last year.
The Jackets’ boys’ team will be led by Zach Piedt and Jacob Kohlhoff, both returning state champion swimmers in two events. The Lady Jackets will be led by a senior trio of Meg Wiggins, Madison Little and Tori Herron, along with rising talent in sophomore Madison Coughlin.
“I am excited about the state meet,” Van Buskirk said. “I feel both teams are state contenders. We are very quick this year.”
Fort Mill is favored again to win Region III. However, one of the contenders for that title will be rival Nation Ford High.
The Falcons have a full team of 50 swimmers this year with a balance of youth and experience, which should help them this year and in years to come, said first-year head coach Kristin Martin.
“I think we will do really well,” Martin said. “We have a lot of talent.”
Some of the talent leading the boys’ team will be seniors Jacob Martin and David Sweezer, both nationally ranked swimmers for the YMCA.
“We have a lot of experience,” Martin said. “But we got a very young team.”
The Falcons only have a handful of seniors on the roster, which features a dozen seventh- and eighth-graders as well.
For the Lady Falcons, that youth includes seventh-grader Evelyn Peters and eighth-grader Vialyn Castilla, who is home-schooled.
“We are stronger than we were last year,” said Martin, who served as an assistant last season. “In years to come we will be strong in the future.”