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Archive for Friday, May 17, 2002

Friendly city swim teams headed to state

May 17, 2002

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Somebody overhearing both Free State and Lawrence High's swimming coaches at the Sunflower League meet earlier this month could only assume that the two schools have the greatest rivalry in the city or the Firebirds' Jama Crady and Lions' Ryan Adams were related.

Close ... the two were college roommates.

"Oh, yeah, there's a rivalry," said a taunting Adams, who pointed in Crady's direction after his team finished fourth while the Firebirds placed fifth at the Sunflower League meet, the best combined finish for the two city high schools.

Actually, Crady and Adams are more like best buddies than nemeses, and their two teams share that friendship.

Swimming hasn't become engrossed in the cross-town grudge-fest.

"It's kind of different, but it's fun," Crady said. "For nine months out of the year, they are all friends swimming for the Aquahawks, and the other three months they're not going to not cheer for each other."

That closeness will become even more obvious today, when Free State and Lawrence High travel to Manhattan to take part in the state swim meet at Kansas State's KSU Natatorium.

The two teams will meet for breakfast before traveling to the meet together. And they'll also be staying in the same motel.

"I mean, there's a little competition, but for the most part we're all cheering for each other," said LHS senior Andrea Hemphill, who will carry the city's best chance for an individual title as the top-ranked swimmer in both the 50 and 100 free.

"I know there's a lot of competition in other sports between the two schools, but since we just recently split we don't have that intense competition."

The united front indeed won't be a new concept, because before this season the two always had practiced together yet competed as two individual schools.

Crady and Adams split the head-coaching duties last year when they took over for long-time coach Pat Grzenda.

The two coaches became friends through their passion for swimming.

"There was no way we thought we'd ever be coaching together," said Adams, who shared an apartment with sister Jennifer Myers and Crady when Crady was swimming at Kansas University. "It was never in either of our minds."

What also hasn't entered either mind is any thought of generating a venomous rivalry.

Crady said parents at both schools like the fun-loving atmosphere, and Adams said the sport doesn't offer trash-talking opportunities.

"In general, swimming will never have the same rivalry as, say, football," said Adams, who swam competitively at Wyoming. "We also see them so many times, it's kind of like, 'Oh, it's Free State again.' So it's kind of hard to get excited about the cross-town rivalry."

Plus, with such an abundance of talent every year within the Aquahawks' feeding system, neither can be sure which team will have the upper hand.

"I don't want to be like, 'Ah, we kicked your butt this year,'" Adams said. "Because next year Free State is going to be tough. I think we are going to switch on and off about which is the better team."

But one thing that Crady says won't change is her ability to beat Adams in the pool.

"Last year we got in there and raced, and while we were both complaining about how out of shape we were, I kicked his butt," she said with a laugh. "He had to quit, but, of course, he won't admit that."

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