A smaller-than-usual girls swim team translated into a down season at Columbus North last season.
But this year, the Bull Frogs have a new coach in Logan Schaefer and 29 girls out for the team. That’s more than double what they had last year when they finished fourth in Conference Indiana and third in the North Sectional.
“Things have been going really smooth,” Schaefer said. “The numbers do help. It allows us to make a bunch of different combinations for relays and dual-meet lineups so we can carry on into conference, sectional and state.”
Senior Alex Nusawardhana was the only North individual to qualify for state last season. She was a sectional champion and finished 14th in the 100-yard backstroke in earning The Republic Girls Swimmer of the Year honors.
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Nusawardhana also swam on the 200 medley relay team that finished 22nd at state.
“Alex is one of those who will continue to contribute at lots of levels throughout the season,” Schaefer said.
Senior Darby Coles was a state qualifier in the 100 freestyle as a sophomore and swam on the 200 medley relay team last season. She signed on Wednesday to continue her career at Marshall.
Junior Kaitlyn Niebrugge finished second in the sectional in the 100 backstroke last season. The Bull Dogs have three promising freshmen in Betsy King, Olivia Morlok and Karlie Brown, all of which can swim a variety of events, but primarily distance.
Other top returning swimmers are Hannah Manlief, Rebecca Sandlin, Rachel Gutman and Jennifer Gutman. North also welcomes back senior divers Sarah Towsley, Emma Wilson and Maddy Neal.
The Bull Frogs are aiming to get back to the top of the conference and sectional this season.
“It’s been discussed,” Schaefer said. “It’s a steppingstone to some larger things, but they’re excited. I don’t think there’s a limit on what they’re able to do, so I’m not going to put a limit on them because I know they will strive to be above that limit and do some great things.”
Like North, East has seen a big increase in numbers over last season. The Olympians have 39 girls, up from 24.
“It’s going to be an exciting year, I think,” East coach Jill Arnholt said. “We have some new swimmers, and they’re really looking good and fast and are going to be a huge help, and we have a lot of first-time swimmers who are working hard. They’re just getting better every day.”
Back to lead the Olympians is senior Cortney VanLiew. VanLiew qualified for state in the 50 freestyle as a sophomore and just missed making it back last season.
Juniors Whitley Eicher and Lizzy Frazier joined VanLiew on the sectional runner-up 200 freestyle relay team. Eicher also finished fifth in the sectional in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 200 individual medley.
Freshmen Annie Frazier and Jennifer Utterback have shown promise in practice this fall. Other top returners are senior Taylor Smith; juniors Maddy Ping, Lily Shelp, Morgan Meier and Anna Andress and sophomore Cameron Kelly.
“It will be a puzzle to figure out who’s going to swim those three relays,” Arnholt said. “We have some pretty strong swimmers there.”
Junior Maggie Gregory, senior Julie Connor are returning divers and will be joined by senior Becca Bryan, who was a gymnast her first two years and a cheerleader last season. Junior Quinn Phillips, who has been a swimmer the past two years, moves to diving. East is still looking for a diving coach for its boys and girls teams.
Last year, the Olympians finished fifth in the Hoosier Hills Conference and fourth in the North Sectional.
“We definitely want to place better in conference, and I’d like to see us move up in both conference in sectional,” Arnholt said. “We’d like to get Cortney back to state, and we’d like to get a relay to state.”
The Panthers will look to improve on a seventh-place finish in the HHC and a fourth in the Floyd Central Sectional
“Hopefully, we are going to be a stronger team this year and just a better-rounded team than we were last year,” Jennings coach Chaz Wilson said.
The top returners are senior Ashton Koons; juniors Sarah Webster, Sierra Bott and Jalea Millon and sophomores Fizzie Kirchner and Chloe Fields. Those six represent the Panthers’ core and likely will make up their three relay teams.
Sophomore diver Haley Brown is back after miss last season because of health reasons.
“She will definitely be contributing big-time for us this year,” Jennings assistant coach Bill Dillon said. “She’ll definitely be competitive in the conference and sectional. She’s still looking to get back to where she was, but I think she’ll be up there by February for sure.”
The 2016-17 Columbus East and Columbus North girls swimming schedules
Saturday;at Bloomington North;10 a.m.
Tuesday;at New Albany Relays;6:30 p.m.
Dec. 1;Shelbyville;6 p.m.
Dec. 6;at Columbus North;5:30 p.m.
Dec. 8;Jennings County;6 p.m.
Dec. 10;at Shelbyville Relays;11 a.m.
Dec. 17;at New Albany;11 a.m.
Jan. 5;Bedford North Lawrence;6 p.m.
Jan. 7;at Bloomington North Diving Invitational;9 a.m.
Jan. 10;Madison;6 p.m.
Jan. 14;HHC at Bedford North Lawrence;9 a.m.
Jan. 19;at Seymour;6 p.m.
Jan. 21;at Jeffersonville;11 a.m.
Jan. 24;at Greensburg;6 p.m.
Nov. 21;Jennings County;5:30 p.m.
Nov. 22;at Franklin;5:30 p.m.
Nov. 26;North Central;10 a.m.
Dec. 1;Seymour;5:30 p.m.
Dec. 3;at Center Grove;10 a.m.
Dec. 6;Columbus East;5:30 p.m.
Dec. 10;Columbus North Relays;noon
Jan. 5;at Bloomington North;6 p.m.
Jan. 7;at Bloomington North Diving Invitational;9 a.m.
Jan. 12;at Franklin Central;6 p.m.
Jan. 14;Conference Indiana;9 a.m.
Jan. 26;Oldenburg Academy;6 p.m.