NEWTON — NCMP. Newton/Colfax-Mingo/Pella. The Aquagirls have swimmers from three communities come together to form a strong swim team in Iowa high school ranks.
Seven girls have continued to work this past week preparing for Saturday’s 2013 Iowa State Swim Meet in Marshalltown. There’s a couple from Newton, a couple from Pella and one from Colfax in the group, but it’s all about NCMP Aquagirls and swimming to the occasion.
“We’ve worked hard all season. I’m so proud of everyone,” said Carly Colville, the lone senior qualified for state. Colville, who lives in Colfax but attends Newton Senior High, will compete in her fourth straight state swim meet Saturday.
“I’m excited to end my senior season and my career on a high note with this group. I’m hoping we end the season with a bang and put ladies on the podium at state,” Coville said.
Colville is on two freestyle relay teams for the Aquagirls. She leads off both the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relays. Juniors Rachel Prendergast and Hannah Scotton are headed to their third consecutive state meet. Junior Sara Martin will be in her first state meet.
Sophomores Samantha Hedrick and Sydney Jenkins have qualified for the second straight year. Hannah Rhoads, another sophomore, is going to her first state meet.
Prendergast, Scotton, Rhoads and Jenkins are from Newton. Hedrick and Martin come to the NCMP team from Pella.
“This is a neat mix of kids, who are all extremely competitive in a positive way. They’ve gelled so well,” said Sarah Patterson, NCMP head coach. “I’ve been coaching for 21 years, and we’ve had swimmers go to state for 21 years now. That’s quite a tradition for this team.
“Those who qualify for state each year represent the whole team. They are the spirit of the Aquagirls at state.”
The state diving and swimming meet is at the Marshalltown YMCA this weekend. The diving competition is Friday and the swimming competition begins at noon Saturday. Admission is $8 per person.
“The state meet is quite an event. They have the parade of teams before the competition. It’s a fun competition to watch,” Patterson said.
The state diving and swimming meet will be streamed for free at the UStream website. The link to watch the meet online is: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/9640402.
Up first at the state meet will be the NCMP 200-yard medley relay team of Jenkins, Rhoads, Scotton and Hedrick. They set a new school record a week ago in winning a regional championship in the event. Jenkins leads off with the backstroke followed by Rhoads in the breaststroke, Scotton in the butterfly and Hedrick anchors with the freestyle.
“The coaches have told us what to expect. I think it will be fun and great experience,” Rhoads said of her first state meet. “I want to swim fast and work hard in the pool. I want the practice I’ve put in will pay off for my team. I like swimming for the challenge of it plus it’s fun to be on this team.”
NCMP’s 200-yard medley relay is seeded fifth. The team set the new team mark at 1 minute, 50.45 seconds at regional and is looking to lower it at state.
“These four had an incredible swim at the regional. We’ve just been tweaking tiny things — a faster turn, a better finish, more aggressive on the start,” Patterson said. “Our goal is to make the podium, which would be the top six and earn medals. They have a great shot at doing that.”
Scotton and Hedrick, who went 1-2 in the regional meet, will be in the 100-yard butterfly. Scotton holds the school record, 57.90 seconds, in the event and Hedrick posted a 58.6-second time. They are seeded third and sixth, respectively.
“It’s going to be tough competition with a lot of really fast swimmers in the field,” said Scotton, placed fifth at the state in the event last year. “Our coaches keep telling us that we’re not the underdogs. We’ve worked hard and present as much competition for the other girls as they do to us.”
Hedrick said the butterfly is a race she plans to just go after it like she did at regional. She said swimming is a sport she really enjoys competing in for the individual and team challenges.
“It’s an individual sport but also you push yourself to help your team. I think we’re going to do really well on the relays,” Hedrick said. “We’ve come together as a team this season. Our coaches help us out by pushing us and cheering us on.”
The NCMP 200-yard freestyle relay team of Colville, Martin, Hedrick and Scotton rolled out a school record time of 1:40.26 last weekend. The foursome’s time is 14th among the 24 top times of the state.
“I’m excited about swimming at state. We’ve been working hard for this all season,” Martin said. “My goal is to help the relay do as well as we can. I have a personal goal in mind but we also have a group goal. After qualifying, I was ready to be with this team another week to see how far we can go.”
Patterson said this week’s practices have been more about improving techniques. She said she and assistant coach Chris Forsyth asked each girl on the relays what was a little thing that each one could work on to better their splits.
“State can be overwhelming at first,” Colville said. “We all deserve to be there. We’ve worked hard together all season and we qualified in the top 24 across the state. You just calm down and swim. I know we’ll get in the pool and battle, do our best.”
Jenkins set the NCMP 100-yard backstroke record, 1:01.99, last week at regional. She swims the backstroke leg of the medley relay plus is on the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“I know we’re ready for state. We’ve trained the whole season for this. We’re going to leave it all in the pool,” Jenkins said. “I’m more relaxed swimming on the relays. In the medley, I’m just excited to swim with the other girls. We have a lot of fun together. In the 100 backstroke, I feel comfortable with it and I’ll just go out and swim the best I can.”
“Hannah and Samantha had beautiful races last week in the 100 butterfly. They know they will be up against stiffer competition, but we train to race. They are both in podium position going into state,” Patterson said. “Sydney qualified 23rd and had a great race at regional. We’ve just worked on getting around a little faster on that turn this week.”
Winding up the state meet will be the 400-yard freestyle relay race. The quartet of Colville, Prendergast, Jenkins and Hedrick posted a school record time of 3:41.56 at regional. They have their sights set on lowering it.
“It’s going to be an intense meet. I’m hoping for a really fast time,” Prendergast said. “I consider the freestyle as my best stroke. Our success as a team comes from the fact we work to push each other in practice. By bettering each other, we’re bettering ourselves.”
Patterson said for the 400 freestyle relay it is about the combination of everyone dropping a little bit of time off their splits. The Aquagirls’ relay is seeded 12th at state.
Patterson said she wanted to mention the contribution of team manager Austin Bunker. She said Bunker, a sophomore who swims on the boys’ team, has been an asset for the girls’ team this year. Patterson said Bunker “even helps us coach at times.”
“In swimming, there is a single class. So, you are swimming against the largest schools in the state. To make the top 24 and reach the state meet, it’s a huge honor and accomplishment. These girls have worked hard all season and it’s fun to coach them,” Patterson said.
“Coach Forsyth and I have shared so much over 20 years of coaching together. This team is steeped in tradition. We’ve told the girls to just go out and swim big, swim to the occasion.”