Lakeland sees personal gains

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014

File Photo by Jeremy Brant Making progress: Lakeland High School junior Marcus Davis competed in the butterfly against Hickory High School in the first half of a busy two-meet week.

File Photo by Jeremy Brant
Making progress: Lakeland High School junior Marcus Davis competed in the butterfly against Hickory High School in the first half of a busy two-meet week.

Lakeland High School’s swim teams produced individual highlights despite suffering significant team losses in the midst of a demanding schedule last week.

The Cavaliers swam two meets in three days. On Saturday against Grassfield High School, the boys’ team fell 134-28, and the girls’ team lost 136-28 at the Great Bridge Swim and Racquet Club.

Already dwarfed in team size by the Grizzlies, Lakeland also did not have all of its swimmers on hand.

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“We had several with injuries/illnesses that prevented them from competing in their events, and it impacted the overall scores,” Lakeland head coach Beth Brant wrote in an email.

Still, progress was on display.

Greg Epps set a Lakeland season record in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 2:44.19. Epps was also part of the boys’ 400-meter freestyle relay that set a Lakeland season record, finishing in 5:12.34. The remainder of the team consisted of Marcus Davis, Cody Lawrence and Shaquon Woods.

For the girls, Leia Dotson set a Lakeland season record with a time of 36.16 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle.

Brant addressed the challenges confronting a small swim team that has to compete on Thursday and Saturday. On top of dealing with injuries and illnesses, the team does not have practice on Friday, preventing it from going over much from the previous meet.

In addition to midterms this week, some of the swimmers had exams starting last week, “so they have a lot academically on their plate to balance with swimming right now,” Brant stated.

To fill all available events, most members of the team compete in four apiece, which is the maximum amount possible.

“With back-to-back meets, that can be physically and mentally challenging,” Brant stated.

She added that rest, proper nutrition and mental preparation are paramount to prepare for the back half.

Brant stated the week’s earlier competition went better for her swimmers because “more Lakeland season records were made on Thursday with (the) Hickory (High School) meet than on Saturday.”

Hickory still scored team wins of 138-24 over the boys and 138-30 over the girls, but Lakeland’s race against previous times was successful.

“Cody Lawrence had a personal record on the 400 freestyle event,” Brant stated, with a time of 6:10.13.

Both the boys’ and girls’ 200-meter freestyle relay teams posted personal bests, as well. Lawrence, Epps, Davis and Woods combined for a time of 2:08.40, while Dotson, Megan Cox, Erin Bradshaw and Jenna Marvin finished with a 2:30.74 time.

Rounding out the highlights for the boys was Epps with a Lakeland season record in the 50-meter freestyle (30.36 seconds).

Megan Cox swam the 100-meter freestyle in 1:25.76, setting the record for Lakeland this season, while Cheyenne Salmon accomplished the same feat in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 1:48.67.

For Brant, quickening times are just one sign her swimmers are developing. With no year-round swimmers in the program, she stated, “half of my team started at a doggie paddle in November. Out of the other half of my team, the majority weren’t even doing flip turns and several only knew one or two of the four competitive strokes.”

She has seen swimmers learn these important fundamentals and apply them in meets, including “a swimmer who started doing doggie paddle and then progressed into a swimmer who won their heat in an event against more seasoned swimmers.”

Additionally, she cited attitudes that were negative at the start of the season having turned positive.

Factoring all of these things in, “We have progressed farther than a score could ever measure,” she stated.

On Saturday at noon, Lakeland swims against Western Branch High School at the Great Bridge Swim and Racquet Club.