The popularity of swimming at North Surry High School is on the increase and has the largest depth ever in its seven-year history this 2012 season.
The Hounds swim with 34 swimmers this year on the team roster and have only seven to 10 swimmers who have ever swam for the team.
Head Coach Ashley Taylor said she will be looking for the senior leadership on the team in both boys and girls to step up as an example for all the new swimmers in the program and quoted some examples.
Taylor said it is senior Sarah Holleman’s first year swimming for the girl Hounds and already has won first place in the 500 freestyle against West Stokes during their second match. Taylor said senior Alex Nicholson, who has swam for the team two years, has a very beautiful breaststroke, one of the hardest strokes to learn, and is expected to do well. Senior football player Cody Key is swimming his third season on the team and has gone to the regionals twice, and senior baseball player Payden Simmons already has got an automatic time in the breaststroke, Taylor said.
Simmons said he loves basketball and swimming and said, “With God and coaches, all I can do is give it my all and they do the rest.”
It will take another meet or two to figure out how the numbers are shaping up for the team, according to Taylor. She said it takes several swim meets to get enough stats to understand how the players and the team compare to others in the conference.
The Northwest conference teams are North Surry, Surry Central, Bishop McGuiness, East Surry and Mount Airy. Home swim meets for the Hounds are held at the Reeves Community Center in Mount Airy.
On the Hounds’ team there are athletes swimming this year who come from a diversity of sports including football, soccer, volleyball, wrestling, baseball and track and field.
“They are hard workers,” Taylor said.
The highest number of players on the team that play another sport are football players. There are eight and some were all-conference.
Taylor, who has coached swimming eight years total with three of those years being at North Surry, is pleased with the built in cross-training aspect of the team’s talent. She has learned to use the strengths and talents from athletes in a cross-training approach during practice, she said.
The coach said she makes use of the competitive spirit swimmers have developed from competing in other sports and puts that to her advantage. Then, fundamentally, Taylor finds out how to use what is there and lacking with each swimmer’s ability and adapts it to the sport of swimming.
Taylor illustrated an example about this technique when discussing training that is sometimes required of the football players; there are at least six of them, and a majority are seniors.
Taylor said football players often come into swimming with a lot of upper body strength and it is usually their kick that needs working on. When this combo works together through practice, Taylor said, then good swimming can really develop.
Nathan Caudle, a soccer player, said swimming somewhat reminds him of the midfield position in soccer.He discovered swimming is somewhat more like racing against yourself and not quite the same type of approach found in soccer.
Many of the younger swimmers said they could not wait for their first place win to happen and others just wanted to beat an opponent for the first time, they said.
Swimmer Elijiah Bryant said, “I can’t wait to beat my first opponent,” and Ruth Caudle said that she looks forward to getting her first place finish.
Taylor said she uses a lot of motivational talks and positive reinforcement techniques to coach. She said she finds it very important to try and watch each team member swim and teach immediately after each event. She instructs on the positives first but takes the opportunity to offer correction as needed. Taylor said this approach to coaching has really worked well with the team.
She encourages the team to cheer each other on and wants them to show good sportsmanship such as “shaking heads” with their competitors, she said.
Taylor said she always has hope that a number of her players will make the regional meet and will get times that were unexpected from them and she does not rule out any possibility of this happening. She also believes that some could have a shot at making it to the state meet, she said.
“There are always surprises in swimming. Sometimes the swimmers may be uncomfortable in an event, but I will put people in events that are new to them or their least favorite,” Taylor said.
“Sometimes they will surprise and outperform the expected. With swimming you never know what they are going to do.”
The coach said the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly are the four basic competitive strokes in swimming. In every practice, drills in these strokes are practiced repetitively to reduce the possibility of being disqualified over the little things, such as how the legs should look in the butterfly, and other issues like touching the wall during turns.
Many do not understand how tough swimming in competition can be because of the discipline in the little things that is required, Taylor said.
The scoring works at dual meets by scoring only three players for each event and this system works to make the swimmers very competitive, Taylor said. There is always room for others to be picked as a top swimmer if they show improvement, said Taylor. In the tri-meets, only the two top scorers of each event are scored.
Over the season, swimmers continue to build confidence and do well in the events in which they did not expect, Taylor said.
“I have faith in them, they just have to have faith in themselves,” Taylor said.
The team has an 0-2 record but there is a lot of swim action left in the season. They compete in six season meets total before the conference meet is held Jan. 18 for the boys and Jan. 19 for girls. They will swim in the regionals in February with at least one qualifier already in the boys breaststroke.
The state swim meet accepts only the top swimmers from the conference and is held after regionals are completed.
The Greyhounds will compete in their next conference match on Tuesday at East Surry’s home pool, Armfield Civic Center.