THERE hasn’t been much rest for the Jennings County swim teams during winter break.
Coach Bill Dillon’s top competitors have been swimming more than four hours and about 13,000 yards each day, which is about eight miles.
“These next two weeks are crucial,” Dillon said. “They don’t have school, and we don’t have any meets until Thursday at Jeffersonville, so we can get in more practice. Our top guys can get more yardage in, and our younger swimmers can work a lot more on their technique.
“I made Wednesday night’s practice voluntary because of the weather,” Dillon said. “I was surprised that 16 or 17 swimmers showed up. In the past, we wouldn’t have had that many. Some older swimmers offered rides to younger swimmers because they wanted the younger swimmers to be at practice.”
Having quality depth will be a key to the Panthers’ postseason success.
“Our goal for the sectional is that we have three swimmers place in the top 16 in each event and score points for us,” Dillon said. “Jeffersonville, Floyd Central and New Albany do that traditionally. Our No. 1 swimmers are comparable to theirs, but it’s our No. 2 and No. 3 swimmers that will determine where we finish.”
Dillon has been pleased by the progress of young swimmers in practice.
“Our No. 2 and No. 3 swimmers have continued to see time drops,” he said.
“Our No. 3 500 freestyle swimmer, Alex Wallace, has had great practices recently. He’s developed a lot of endurance.”
On the girls team, Jaelyn Millon has been a pleasant surprise.
Her contributions on the relay teams have offset injuries to relay swimmers Vicky Suding and Kate Eastman.
“At the start of the year, she wasn’t on any of our relay teams,” Dillon said of Millon. “She’s worked her way on two of our top relay teams in the 200 free relay and the 200 medley relay. She had trouble finishing races early in the season when I used her as a sprinter, but she’s developed a lot of endurance, and she works hard in practice. She can finish races strong now.”
Dillon said he hopes that one of his girls relay teams can break a school record later this season.
“We haven’t done that since 2007,” he said. “We have a chance to do it in about four or five events.”
Trever Wilson has set three school records all by himself so far this season. In the team’s first meet, Wilson broke his own record in the 500-yard freestyle.
Wilson broke the 200 freestyle record in the team’s second meet, and he shattered the 100 breaststroke mark in the season’s third meet.
Wilson has been able to maintain his torrid pace in the pool because of his superior technique on his turns.
“He has the fastest turns on our team,” Dillon said. “I do a lot of turning drills in practice, particularly with the younger swimmers. One of the hardest things a swimmer can have is a bad turn because he has to expend energy to come back from that. Good swimmers can let their momentum they get off the wall carry them.”
The boys squad has plenty of momentum heading into the second half of the season after dual meet wins against Columbus East and Seymour. The Owls figure to be a key rival in the sectional, but the Panthers believe they have the mental edge.
“We have everybody back from last season, and they lost three or four guys,” Dillon said. “We’d beaten them in the Hoosier Hills Conference championship meets and in the sectional, but we’d never beaten them in a dual meet before. I think the boys team can finish in the top three this year, and we’ll hopefully close the gap on Jeffersonville and Floyd Central.”