With the Nation Ford boys’ and Fort Mill girls’ swim teams finishing last year in the top five at the state meet, both squads are looking to improve on those results this season.
Nation Ford has a smaller boys’ team this year, but head coach Kristin Martin is optimistic her team will be able to put together a good run when needed the most. The boys’ team is expected to be led by swimmers Ryan Williams and Tanner Debus.
“The boys will be strong this year,” Martin said. “We don’t have many, but the ones we have are strong.”
On the girls’ team, Martin said her team is young, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good considering the experience most have had in swimming programs over the years leading to high school.
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One aspect of moving up to 5A this year that will affect both Nation Ford and Fort Mill will be the qualifying times. Because both schools have moved to a higher classification, the times are much lower than last year at 4A, thus making it harder to qualify for the state meet.
“The automatic times are tougher to get,” Martin said.
Fort Mill head coach Cindy Van Buskirk said she agreed with Martin and that it will be interesting to see how schools are able to meet the challenge.
Fort Mill has about an even number on both teams and the girls’ team should again challenge for a state title.
“We are very strong this year,” Van Buskirk said. “We have a lot of returning talent and some new talent.”
The Fort Mill boys’ team, which finished sixth in last year’s state finals, will also have swimmers back like the Fenwick brothers to help lead the way.
Fort Mill opens the season against Northwestern this week before heading to the Augusta Invitational this weekend. Nation Ford will open their season at the Augusta Invitational. The two teams square off against each other Sept. 22 at the Anne Springs Close Recreation Center.
One change about this year’s schedule is that the 5A state meet is scheduled for a Friday night in Columbia on Oct. 7. Normally, the state meet has been on a Saturday.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM