By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
A year after sending a few individuals, as well as relay teams, to the 2017 state meet, the Moapa Valley High School swimming program hopes to send even more this season. A healthy increase in athletes turning out to swim, and a good number of returning swimmers to the team, looks like reason for optimism for the swim team.
The team has yet to actually get in the pool this season because of cold water temperatures in the outdoor pool at the Mesquite Recreation Center where they practice. But they have been hard at work in dry land conditioning practice. And the Pirates are feeling confident before the season begins.
The team is led by head coach Erinn Thompson who has the benefit of a massive crop of seniors on her side. Four senior boys who went to state last season are returning. Tyler Holmes, Chase LaCroix, Zane Lamping, and Nathaniel Thompson will be leading the team this year coming off of a successful 2017.
In addition, Hailee Heiselbetz, on the girls’ side, went to state last year in a relay and will be helping to head the lineup.
Sam Jolley also returns from last season after making the state tournament in his first year with the team.
“Having returners and their experience and years under their belt, I hope it transcends into a state opportunity,” head coach Erinn Thompson said. “I hope it filters off to the new swimmers who can learn from them as well.”
The girls swim team returns more than just Heiselbetz. Other athletes rejoining the team this season include Camille Hardy and Marina Mortensen, both strong competitors in the breaststroke last year. Sophomores Emma Walker and Brylee Watkins look to make an impact as well this year. And junior Abby Rose will get her first look at the water after a knee surgery shortened her season last year.
One of the team’s other apparent strengths is their lack of weakness. The team figures to be competitive in a variety of events but doesn’t stand out in any specific event either.
“Other than the 200 and 400 free relay where we do really well, nothing stands out that we’re going to be best in,” Thompson said. “There’s not a specific event they’ll really excel in and right now at the beginning of the season it’s hard to nail down exactly what event that could be.”
Thompson said she has one goal in mind, and it has been consistent since she’s began coaching. “My goal remains the same every year,” she said. “It is to help the athletes improve their time from the start to the end of the season. My goal is to get as many athletes as I can to regionals.”
That goal may be easier this season because with a substantial spike in team numbers, the likelihood of performing well in events increases too. Roughly thirty players came out last season. This year that number leaped up to nearly 45.
“It will help with points,” Thompson said. “Having the numbers really helps. I have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that I haven’t seen swim. A lot of these individuals have natural athletic ability so I’m hoping that shows through.”
The team is hoping they can send a few more individuals and perhaps find success at the state level as a whole this season.