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The 2017-18 swimming season is coming to an end for the Artesia High School swim team with the District 3 Championship to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Carlsbad.

District 3 consists of teams from Artesia, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Alamogordo, Clovis, NMMI and Las Cruces. There are 43 swimming teams in the state, and all are in one classification. The state meet will be held at the Albuquerque Academy Natatorium Feb. 16-17 in Albuquerque. Swimmers must have a state qualifying time or place in the top two in any event in the district meet.

We have had a young, inexperienced team this year, but they have made great improvements since the beginning of the season. Of 24 swimmers who endured the entire season, only five had more than one year of experience on the team. Fourteen were brand new.

I tell all the swimmers if they are going to be on a swimming team, they will learn to swim all four strokes – legally. That’s just part of competitive swimming. If they are the fastest on the team in an event, they get first choice of entering that event. Otherwise, I put them where I need them. Most of them are good sports when I tell them they are going to swim the 500-yard freestyle, but not so much if I mention the 100-yard butterfly.

There were four seniors this year – Shania Noble, Dakota Thatcher, Madilynn Moon and Cody Nailon. Shania has been swimming on the team since the eighth grade and has competed in every event over the years. Dakota is finishing his second year with us and competes in the 50 free, 100-yard free, and 200-yard free. Madilynn joined us this year and has been one of our top finishers in the 100-yard breaststroke. Cody came to us after the football season was over and swims the 50-yard freestyle.

Juniors Taylor Green and Ian Robson returned for their second year, with Destiny Barrera joining for the first time. Homeschooler Cleya Thatcher returned for her second year. Another homeschooler, Kylee Heady, joined us this year. Taylor’s best event is the 100-yard backstroke, while Ian prefers the 100 breaststroke. Cleya will swim any and all strokes, and Destiny has competed in all the freestyle events. Kylee has mastered all four strokes in a very short time and has begun swimming the 200 individual medley, as well as the 100 butterfly.

Returning sophomores this year are Carson Anderson, Issac Bramwell, Bailey Callaway, Hannah Shannon and Chaise Wolf. New sophomores are Kneph Meneses-Miranda and Vincent Ray. Carson is one of our versatile swimmers. He will swim in any event we need him. Hannah has focused on the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Issac swims primarily the freestyle events and Bailey has worked on the 100 backstroke this season.

Kneph is focusing on the 100 breaststroke and Vincent has done an excellent job learning the butterfly. Chaise is close to a state qualifying time in the 50 freestyle, so we’re hoping things work out for him this weekend. Qualifying time is 23:29 and last weekend in Hobbs he swam a 24:08, just .79 away.

All our freshmen are new this year and include Karina Bolanos, Sierra Bramwell, Syann Perez, Blanca Reyes and Jace Salgado. These swimmers are mostly swimming the freestyle events but are branching out with the backstroke and breaststoke. Jace has stepped up and is swimming the butterfly on the boys’ “A” Medley Relay the last two meets and has been steadily improving in the 100 breaststroke.

Last, but not least, are our three eighth-graders. Emma Greenwood, Bailey Owens, and homeschooler Abriel Phelps. All three came to practice last summer and proved themselves worthy of being on the high school team. They have been our “A” 400 Freestyle Relay swimmers. All three of them have just about mastered all the strokes.

This group will continue to improve, and I anticipate some great things for them in the next couple of years.