In its third year, the Decatur swim program brought home four medals from the Class 4A Region II meet in 2011.
Coach Doris Dennard hopes this year the team breaks through with a regional gold medal and a first trip to Austin and the University Interscholastic League championships.
“We got a second and some thirds, but we’ve never got first,” Dennard said. “Hopefully we can get out some individuals and relays. It’s there for the taking.”
The regional meet at the Keller ISD Natatorium starts with prelims Friday afternoon. Finals will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The top 16 swimmers or relay teams in each event advance to compete Saturday. The fastest eight will be in the finals and the others in the consolation race.
Only the regional champions are guaranteed a spot at the state meet. The next eight best finals times from all eight regional meets will advance.
Comparing Region II’s times to the other regions, Dennard said it will take victories to advance.
“It’s all a matter of getting first,” she said.
The Lady Eagles enter the meet with the top time in three events. Freshman Katey Rowden is first in the 50-yard and 100 freestyles. She is also on the top-ranked 400 freestyle with Haley Dennard, Kate Grant and Audry McCreary.
Reagan Ralston replaces Grant on the 200 freestyle relay that is second behind 6-4A competitor Byron Nelson.
“It’s us and Byron Nelson head-to-head,” said Haley Dennard about the relays. “It’s the little things that matter now.”
At practice Tuesday, the Lady Eagles focused on their relay exchanges.
“It’ll be tough, and we’re taking a lot more risk with our starts on the relays,” McCreary said. “You’ve got to be risky for this.”
McCreary is seeded third in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 200 individual medley. The freshman said she is trying to control her nerves.
“This is the first time for something this big,” she said.
Dennard returns to regionals where she brought home three medals last year, taking third in the 50 and the 200 and 400 relays.
She is hoping to improve on her district time of 2:13.8 in the 200 freestyle. She is seeded seventh in the event. Dennard is seeded third in the 50 freestyle.
“This is my shot to make my times better,” she said. “I want to redeem myself from district.”
The Lady Eagles will have a quartet of Guirnalda Lopez, Baley Phariss, Madison Phariss and Ralston in the 200 medley relay. The group is seeded eighth.
Lopez will swim in the 100 backstroke. She is ranked eighth.
Baley Phariss is seeded 13th in the 100 breaststroke. It is her second trip to regionals.
“It’s exciting to get here,” she said. “There’s a lot more competition and the times, a lot lower.”
Along with swimming on the 400 relay, Grant will compete in the 500 freestyle. She is seeded eighth.
Between prelims and finals, many of Decatur’s swimmers will be competing eight times over the weekend. Coach Dennard said it is taxing.
“In the past, we swam our best times on Friday,” she said. “We’ve got to be focused and swim our best Saturday.”
The Decatur boys 200 freestyle relay of Daniel Smyers, Robert Davila, Arin Blaylock and Logan Huff is seeded eighth.
Boyd’s lone swimmer, Jake Bryans, is seventh in the 100 backstroke and 12th in the 100 freestyle.