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Archive for Friday, May 2, 2008

Silly seniors shine in own ways

Free State senior swimmers, from left, Bailey Carlson, Amada Bari, Alex Schriner, Katie Sloan and diver Brittanie Williams add personality to a team dominated by underclassmen.

Free State senior swimmers, from left, Bailey Carlson, Amada Bari, Alex Schriner, Katie Sloan and diver Brittanie Williams add personality to a team dominated by underclassmen.

May 2, 2008

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Hidden behind swim caps, goggles and green and black suits is the bubbly personality of this year's Free State High girls swimming and diving team.

Although a large portion of the team's talent resides in the strokes and turns of the underclassmen, the squad's heart and soul comes from its seniors.

"We have a lot of humor on this team, and that comes from them," junior diver Dianna Torgerson said. "They're a very uplifting group. They always know what to say, and they really help with the spirit of the team. They're definitely the core of our team."

In addition to sharing the load when it comes to serving up smiles, seniors Katie Sloan, Alex Schriner, Amanda Bari, Brittanie Williams and Bailey Carlson also share the distinction of being the most experienced members of this year's squad.

Although their experience and happy-go-lucky attitudes don't automatically translate into first-place finishes and state-qualifying times, Free State coach Annette McDonald said both go a long way in leading this year's youthful group.

"That's what they bring to the team," McDonald said. "They help the others see how to enjoy a meet, and their placement critically effects where we place."

That likely will be the case this weekend when the Firebirds play host to the Sunflower League swimming and diving meet. Beginning at 3:30 p.m. today and resuming at 9 a.m. Saturday, each of the FSHS seniors has her game face prepared for her final home event, even if those faces include a funny nose and glasses.

"We don't worry about records and times," Carlson said. "We just go into every meet hoping to have fun."

"If we have fun at a meet, we feel like we've won," added Sloan, the lone member of the senior class to qualify for state thus far.

That's not to say the seniors don't try. Many of them have improved their times throughout the season and continue to do so as the postseason nears. But each learned a long time ago that having fun was just as important as finishing fast.

"The seniors when we were younger were intense and serious swimmers," Schriner said. "It's not that we don't try to do well. We've just always tried to make sure we have fun, too."

A large part of that equation comes from the bond this year's seniors have created.

"The thing I'm going to remember the most is the friendship," Bari said. "We're all good friends, and that has added a different dynamic to how we've been able to act as leaders."

Despite watching underclassmen turn in most of the top times, the seniors have remained focused on serving as a positive influence. No animosity, no jealousy, just encouragement for everyone on the team.

"Our freshmen and sophomores are killer," Sloan said.

"That's a lot of the fun, too," added Williams. "We have a great time rooting for all the girls and encouraging them at every meet."

That attitude, along with a constant dose of laughs and smiles, has their coach believing this year's senior class will leave a lasting legacy.

"They're going to remember them," McDonald said. "They're going to miss them."

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