Most teams start a season off with a run-of-the-mill type of contest. It’s usually a low-key kind of atmosphere, a precursor to stiffer competition in the coming weeks, an opportunity to tune everything up.
Don’t tell that to the Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella Aquagirls, or their fans for that matter. The NCMP swimmers hosted the Linn-Mar Lions at the Newton YMCA on Tuesday night, and they almost brought the house down. The noise resonating from the NCMP girls — along with their parents and friends — was deafening, and it didn’t get any louder than the final heat, which sealed the 91-79 team victory for NCMP.
“Do you still have your hearing after that?” Aquagirls coach Sarah Patterson said.
The energy the girls brought to the meet undoubtedly played a huge role in the Aquagirls victory. While the Lions were not lacking in enthusiasm, there was just no matching the intensity provided by the home-pool atmosphere. Parents and friends packed the pool, leaving nothing but standing room along the walls, and Aquagirls at both ends of the pool cheered their teammates on to no end.
“I think it’s a big catalyst for the win,” Patterson said of the girls’ energy. “I’ve been doing this here for 19 years and we always preach that it’s got to be exciting down to the last event. So they know that we’re ready, and they know that we’re going to battle. They’re just anticipating that it’s going to fun and it’s going to be exciting.”
Even though this team certainly proved that it is just that on Tuesday night, there were plenty of stand-out individual showings as well. Junior Carly Colville’s time of 2 minutes, 16.08 seconds placed her second in the 200-meter freestyle. Colville also finished second to teammate Samantha Hedrick in the 100-butterfly with a time of 1:09.39.
That 50 was one of the tightest individual heats of the night. Hedrick squeaked out the victory at 1:08.51, but she was not far ahead of Colville in second, and teammate Hannah Scotton (1:09.60) in third.
Sophomores Sara Martin (2:45.52) and Hannah Rhoads (2:48.79) finished second and third respectively in the 200-individual medley. Hedrick took second in the 50-freestyle with a time of 28.32, just seconds ahead of Scotton’s 29.50-second time. Sophomore Rachel Pendergast took second in the 100-freestyle with a time of 1:05.81. Freshman Sydney Jenkins was not far behind at 1:06.72. Sophomore Kira Hanson was second in the 400-freestyle (5:13.20), and her teammate Elizabeth Myers was right behind her at 5:19.71. Pendergast also finished second in the 100-backstroke (1:14.56) ahead of Jenkins’ 1:15.79. Sierra Griffith took second in the final individual event of the night — the 100-breaststroke.
However, the night was won for the Aquagirls in the relay events. The team of Jenkins, Griffith, Scotton and Martin took second in the 200-medley. In perhaps the most thrilling race of the night, the Aquagirls took their first victory by edging out the Lions in the 200-freestyle relay. The team of Martin, Colville, Hedrick and Scotton got the victory by a mere .04 seconds.
Patterson was admittedly thrilled with her team’s effort, and its ability to come together so quickly and develop the camaraderie necessary to keep each other motivated throughout the competition.
“We’ve set our goals really high as a team. I’ve always told the girls ‘pressure is a privilege.’ As a coach, I’ve got to adopt that same attitude — pressure is a privilege,” she said. “It’s pressure to go out there and battle and win. I always preach that giving your best is the most important thing. Win or lose I would have been proud of these guys tonight. To come out with a victory and a hard-earned, hard-fought victory just makes us tougher.”