GREENCASTLE -- For South Putnam swim coach Emily Coers, it's all going to be about steady improvement for the 2009 season. Her teams are looking good, but graduation took away some major talent from last year's squads. Now it's time to reload.
For the girls' team, Coers is welcoming back some big talent, but her 200-free relay took a hit. Good news is she has a crop of younger girls coming in that she expects to do good things.
"The girls this year look pretty good," she said. "We have a lot of freshmen. They're looking pretty promising. We lost a couple girls that were in our 200-free relay; they came .02 away from breaking the school record at sectional. But we've gained a couple of girls.
"Samantha Tomasino is back," Coers continued. "She didn't swim last year because of an injury, so I'm really looking forward to that relay and seeing what they can do. Jessica York is back and she's won county both years in the 100 breaststroke. Sara New won the 100 backstroke last year and our diver Allysia Lollar is back, so we've got a lot of returning girls and I think that we'll do as well, if not better than, we did last year."
The boys' team is more of an enigma. South Putnam lost three major contributors, so now it's a matter of someone rising to take ownership of the team and lead them in 2009.
"As far as the boys go, we have a few new faces," Coers said. "We lost Chris Smiley and Loren Ashcraft, who were our top sprinters and Wes Albright, who was our top distance. So, I'm looking to see the boys step up and take over the leadership roles that we lost.
"Darrick Grundlock is our 100 backstroker; Jake Gould is our top breaststroker. So I'm looking for the older guys to step up and really take responsibility for the team and hopefully keep up the record that we had last year," she said.
For this season, Coers has come up with a new workout schedule and she hopes that the extended time they spend in the pool is to their benefit.
"We worked out over the summer. We changed up the way our workouts are structured this year so we can have more time in the pool. So far, the girls have been doing that and I've seen a lot of progress. So I'm hoping that throughout the course of this season, we do our dry lands in the morning, with our swimming in the afternoon. That way we have more time in the pool, which is what matters," Coers commented.
When asked about what she's expecting out of her less experienced team, Coers commented that it's going to rest on a lot of her veteran swimmers. They're going to need to take the younger swimmers under their wings and show them what high school swimming is all about.
"Just the experience," she commented. "Like I said, we have probably like eight or nine new freshmen, and high school is so different than middle school. I'm really hoping that the older kids, the juniors and seniors, can really step up and show them that this is how high school meets are.
"It is different. The intensity is different, the practices are different, but so far our freshmen girls have responded really well and stepped up. They've taken the challenge head on, so I've been impressed so far," Coers continued.
Although she's going to be leading a young team this season, Coers feels that the youth she has possess talent and she be able to make constant improvement as the year goes on.
"I think the freshmen that we do have are talented and I think as the season progresses, we'll find the areas where we need to pick it up on and they'll do that themselves," Coers said. "We're not going to win sectional. We'd love to do that, but I feel like if we improve from today until to Feb. 18, if we improve as a team and individuals, then we have succeeded. And that's all that matters to me is they improve and they feel good about themselves and their times get better and better."
South Putnam hosts North Putnam and Tri-West tonight at 6 p.m.