The Mount Gilead swimmers began their practices in November under new head coach Dina Snow. Her husband, Brad, had been the MG coach for over 12 years.
“I was his assistant last year, so now we are mixing things up and he is now my assistant! The kids are working out well and enjoyed some team-building during preseason conditioning, ” said Snow.
Despite not having an indoor pool in Mount Gilead, the Indian swimmers have worked hard to build a successful program.
“We have a dedicated bunch of swimmers,” said Snow “It is not easy to add a drive to Marion on top of the workout time and still stay involved with other activities. Our swimmers are typically also involved in band, choir and drama, in addition to being good students. I give them a lot of credit for that.”
The lack of a local facility does make it hard to recruit, and sharing a small group of athletes with other winter programs at a small school like Mount Gilead adds to the struggle.
Snow explained that, “For the past five years or so, our men’s and women’s teams were pretty well-balanced, with enough swimmers to fill events. We won the TriCounty Championships several years in a row and won the inaugaral MOAC Championship, and we have placed very high at the invitationals we have attended. Last year, however, we graduated six senior girls, three of which were integral parts of our district-qualifying relays. We only have two freshman girls, and one is currently undergoing physical therapy and won’t be swimming for awhile. I’ll just have to hang on and wait for the middle-schoolers to hurry up and get older,” jokes Coach Snow.
“With only five girls, there is no way to fill events and have relays like we did in the past. We are just going to focus on individual improvement. I continue to expect great things from junior Erin Zmuda. She received first-team MOAC honors last year, competes with the Galion Y outside the high school season and holds all but two of the MG records. Sophomore Cassidy Hack has also been training well and improving in all of her strokes, so it will be fun to watch her tackle some new events.”
The girls team also includes freshmen Allena McLaughlin and Shelby West, as well as senior Marion McGill.
“Our boys team currently has 16 members, but we are going to take a big hit as we will lose six seniors after this year,” said Snow. “It is a high energy group of guys, but I am working to get them more focused on their stroke technique. Many of our swimmers took to the sport only in high school, so they don’t have that natural feel for the water that lifetime swimmers have. So far, we have been building a lot of drills into their practice time and they are really looking good.
“Graduation didn’t take any of our boys last year, so we are returning district qualifiers Logan Conrad, Casey Conrad, Evan Zmuda and Kyle Landes,” continued the coach. “Evan was also a MOAC First Team Honoree last year, and he is focused on taking down his own records. I am also expecting a lot of great things from seniors Jay Stratton, Aaron Evans, Dylan Knight and Noah Arrington. Senior Andrew McFarland is returning to the team after a year in Japan and a season of football, so we are happy to have him back. Juniors Kurtis Brown, Colton Long and Spencer Faux and Sophomore Tyler Jones will continue to contribute in a variety of events and relays, giving us the depth we need to be competitive. Our only freshman is Gavin Robinson, but he swam on the summer team and gained a lot of experience. Junior Trenton Ball and Sophomore John McGill are beginners to high school swimming, but they have been in the pool every night working hard to learn the competitive strokes.”
Snow continued, “Swimming is different in that we don’t often face single teams in competition like football or basketball, so I don’t really have a win-loss record to report from last year. We usually go to invitationals or multi-team meets. Marion Pleasant is our most frequent friendly rival, and we always enjoy the small-teams invitationals hosted by Mount Vernon and Northridge. Mount Gilead still hosts meets on Dec. 16 and Jan. 9 at the Marion Y, so we hope the community will come out and see us swim. I also encourage any student that would like to try a varsity sport to try swimming. Our team is very welcoming and inclusive for beginners, and nobody sits on the bench.”
Information received from Dina Snow.