Entering her first year as Greencastle girls' varsity swimming coach, Emilie Bowman was a little weary about the team she was taking over.
After losing eight seniors to graduation, Greencastle appeared to be nearing choppy water.
That's not the case.
"I'm very excited. I'm excited that we have a great team," Bowman said. "I was a little nervous after losing so many seniors, but we have a great group of seniors this year that are doing a great job with the leadership."
The Greencastle girls' varsity swimming team returns to the pool today, hosting Crawfordsville at 6:30 p.m. The Tiger Sharks have a new coach and a new group of leaders this season, but the goals remain the same.
"We of course want to win county and conference," Bowman said. "And we want to give Crawfordsville a run for their money at sectional this year."
Back to lead Greencastle this season are two returning two state qualifiers - Kendi Thomas and Alys Moore. Bowman said she looks for both of them to make a splash this season.
"Both of them went to state last year," she said. "Kendi went in an individual event, and both went in a relay. I look for both of them to go in individuals (events) this year."
Gone from last season are Erika Grammel, Anna Harmless, Alex Hirt, Betsy Lorton, Tracy Menzel, Colleen Summerlot, Mackenzie Carr and Katie Bowser. In particular, Menzel advanced to the state finals in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.
Looking to fill this void, along with Moore and Thomas, are returning seniors Laura Smith, Jeanette Jones, Jamie Grivas and diver Janet Grumme. A group of newcoming freshmen, including Erika Collins, Caitlin Gannaway, Mary Michael, Kelsey Murtaugh, Liz Poor and Morgan Terry, could also help ease the workload this year.
"We have a lot of new swimmers that are doing a great job, coming in and doing what they need to do in the water," Bowman said. "They're really making this a pretty easy transition from assistant coach to head coach."
Bowman has been particularly impressed with Murtaugh and Terry, who she thinks will make an immediate impact this season.
"They're experienced swimmers, who are going to help us a lot this year," Bowman said.
Another area of strength for the Tiger Sharks this season will be in the sprints. Although the season is still in its infancy, Bowman said she thinks junior Ashley Allred and sophomore Erica Soster will perform well this year in short distance events.
"I've really been surprised and really excited about our sprinters this year," Bowman said. "We haven't had any meets yet so I haven't seen them in a meet setting, but I just feel like we have some girls that are going to be really fast."
The Tigers will face their first true test this evening, facing last year's sectional champions. Bowman knows the Athenians will be a tough first meet.
"Crawfordsville is always tough," she said. "They've got a great program that feeds into their high school program."
However, Bowman isn't going to count her team out of anything just yet.
"Never say never," she said. "You can always give them a run for it. It will be a good test for us to see where we really stack up and what we need to do to be competitive."