SPORTS HEADLINES

Swimming: Making waves – Quartet quickly establishes school mark

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 9, 2016
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Record Setters

RECORD SETTERS – The Decatur 200 freestyle relay team of Allie Blevins Lizzy Rowden, Maddi McCloud and Jennifer Morehart set the school record in the event. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Returning to the pool this fall, Allie Blevins knew she’d be joining three new faces on the Decatur Lady Eagles’ relays.

And in just a few months, Blevins and her new partners – freshmen Lizzey Rowden and Jennifer Morehart and junior transfer Maddi McCloud – have already captured a piece of school history. The quarter set the school record in the 200 freestyle relay and are knocking on the door for the best mark in the 400 relay.

“It’s been a good change,” Blevins said. “I still have a little piece of Katey [Rowden] with her little sister Lizzy.”

Lizzy Rowden has quickly followed in the footsteps of her older sister Katey – a four-time state qualifier. Lizzy is the team’s anchor leg in the school-record 200, swimming in the 25-second range.

She welcomes the high expectations following her sister.

“I love it. Katey is a great inspiration,” Lizzy Rowden said.

McCloud moved in from Byron Nelson and has immediately made herself part of the team. She credits her teammates for giving her a warm welcome.

“It’s been a big change. This team is more tightly knit,” McCloud said. “We’re like a family.”

As one of the relay’s two freshmen, Morehart has also quickly made a transition to swimming with a varsity team.

“It’s new and different than a club,” Morehart said. “We are closer and connect better.”

While being one of the two younger members of the relay, Morehart is the one that the other three say keeps them leveled.

“Jennifer’s the mature one,” Blevins said. “She puts us in control.”

McCloud added their energy and positive motivation have spurred their success this season.

“There’s no negativity,” McCloud said. “We’re all happy and peppy. We’re sometimes overly happy.”

The quartet broke the school record that had stood since 2011 at the 5A TISCA qualifier in December with their time of 1:47.5.

“We didn’t think we got it at first,” McCloud said. “The times were malfunctioning on the scoreboard. It was a complete shock.”

Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman said their 200 time has them among the top 5A times in the region.

“Mansfield Legacy is at 1:45. Grapevine and Granbury are at 1:46,” Huffman said. “Our girls have battled back and forth with Grapevine.”

They will see Grapevine Jan. 23 at the District 6-5A meet.

In the relay, the girls are competitive with the other teams and each other.

“The others are pushing you,” Morehart said.

All four swim in other events but thrive on the relays.

“I enjoy the relays because you get to be with your team,” McCloud said.

With the 200 relay, Blevins faces the challenge of jumping right back in the pool after competing in the 500.

“I get two minutes to breathe,” Blevins said. “The longer I swim, the faster I get. I like having it right after the 500.”

Along with the success in the 200 relay, Huffman has been impressed with the improvement in their 400 times. The quartet has recorded a 3:59.16 – four seconds off the school record.

“They’ve surprised us on the 400,” Huffman said. “They are all sub-one minute.”

With two full weeks before district, the girls expect their times to improve before then to give them a shot in the finals at regionals.

“With coach’s hard practice, by the next meet we’ll shave off more time,” Blevins said.

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