As the bus carrying the Mount Gilead swim team headed for Athens for the Central and Southeast district tournament, the swimmers were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at the monument.
“It was a highlight of the trip,” said coach Dina Snow. “The swimmers got such a boost seeing the mix of faces that ranged from parents and grandparents to teachers, coaches and athletes from other sports. We really appreciate the time and effort it took to coordinate that! Our AD, principal and high school secretary also stepped outside the school to cheer on the team!”
All nine members of the team qualified to go to the district tournament at the sectional meet held the previous week.
“We have had a good number of qualifiers in the past, so going to districts isn’t a new thing,” said Snow. “What made it special is that we have a young team and we are working to rebuild after losing so many to graduation the past few year. These kids have been so dedicated and it was great to learn that the whole team got to go!
“Once the team makes it to this meet, we are mainly interested in seeing how much they improve,” she continued. “The odds of making it past this point are astronomical. Swimming has only two divisions, and we compete against teams like Columbus Academy, Columbus School for Girls, and Bishop Hartley. These schools have their own facilities and can recruit like colleges. Even the swimmers that do well at districts may not advance to state because the other districts have even more powerful schools like Gates Mills Hawken or some of the programs in SW Ohio that dominate every year.”
Snow was pleased with how well everyone swam.
“The pool at Ohio University is fast, they were rested and ready to go, so our times kept dropping! A big highlight for us was seeing Evan Zmuda make it to the podium twice with his fifth place finishes in the 200 IM and 100 breast. Evan works very hard and this was a great culmination of his high school career, and I was thrilled to see him get his medals.”
The boys 200 medley relay (Eric Mowery, Evan Zmuda, Casey Conrad and Gavin Robinson) dropped three seconds and ended up scoring 10 points with a 12th place finish. Casey Conrad scored with an 11th place finish in the 100 fly and a 16th place finish in the 100 back. The 400 free relay (Zmuda, Robinson, Mowery and Tyler Knight) dropped nine seconds and scored with a 16th place finish. Due to a typo in the results, the boys’ final place in scoring was unavailable at press time.
For the girls, Emily Hanft scored with a 14th place finish in the 100 free and also finished 17th in her 50 free. The girls 200 medley and free relays (Hanft, Cassandra Snopik, Adriana Tinch and Kelsey Kneipp) dropped four seconds in both events.
“This was a great day for the girls,” said Snow. “I have mentioned before that we have not had enough girls for a relay since 2015. Having three freshman come up and do this well together was fantastic. Kelsey Kneipp was a beginner swimmer and ended up improving so much that both relays advanced to districts!”
Snow thanks all the parents and family members that traveled to Athens to support the swimmers.