April 24, 2010 11:19:00 PM
Shockwave Aquatics swim coach Robert Gonzalez couldn''t have asked for much more.
After his swimmers delivered 83 to 84 percent best times at the Mississippi Swimming, Inc. Short Course State Championships in February, Gonzalez wasn''t sure what would come next.
But with the start of the summer season quickly approaching, Gonzalez believes his team''s runner-up performance to the Mississippi Makos will carry over. He also hopes his team''s efforts, which included three state records and nine competitors who scored 108 or more points, will help attract new members. (The team''s efforts to increase its numbers are highlighted in the accompanying press release.)
The boys senior 200-yard medley and freestyle relay teams set state records, while Laken Vickers set a state record in the girls 11- to 12-year-old 50 breaststroke (31.31).
Matthew Nichols, 16, Andrew Bond, 16, Mark Garrigues, 23, and John Servati, 17, teamed on freestyle relay for a winning time of 1 minute, 28.83 seconds. Servati, Matt Williams, 17, Garrigues, and Nichols teamed on the medley relay for a winning time of 1:38.17.
Vickers'' swim helped her score 125 points, which was fifth most on her team.
Nancy Zhang, 10, led the Shockwave team members with 146 points. Bond was second with 136.5, followed by Adina Harri with 135.5 points.
Cheng Ye, 13, (130.5), Tristen Grantham, 10, (123), Mark Garrigues , 23, (122.5), David McKell, 14, (108.5), and MarkAnne Hobart, 15, (108) helped lead a group of 27 scorers.
"Not a single swimmer disappointed me this season," Gonzalez said. "We have a lot of up-and-coming swimmers. We''re getting great depth from a solid group of 13- and 14-year-olds. We have a great senior group, and we have some room for improvement in our 10-and-under groups. That is where we''re looking four our summer programs to help us build our depth."
Gonzalez said he would like to have a team with 60-70 members evenly split in each age group. He said a team that size would be better equipped to take on regional and national competition.
As it stands, the Shockwave Aquatics program is one of the state''s best. It has won 13 long and short course titles and has had five runner-up finishes. Gonzalez feels the latest short course finish will be a great springboard to the summer season.
"We had a lot of swimmers who gained confidence in that meet (at Laurel)," Gonzalez said. "I think it can really catapult swimmers from a mental standpoint so they will have the confidence to go to a meet anywhere and be more comfortable and confident."
Gonzalez said that mental approach and preparedness is just as important to the physical part of what his athletes do. He hopes the experienced team members can help set the tone in the stroke clinics that will be offered in June and help newcomers adjust and prove to them that competing at large meets isn''t as imposing as they might think.
If they can accomplish that goal, Gonzalez might have room to be even more pleased in the meets and years to come.
"We are extremely optimistic," Gonzalez said. "I think the want for swimming is here. I think we have proven it because of the number of high school and middle school swimmers is out there. ... Each individual who joins our program can look forward to working with a great coaching staff and having a great facility to use."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.