Swim Team Has Strong Conference Showing – Regionals on Sunday


Photo provided by Jane Fitzgerald

John Stabolitis, Staff Writer

On January 22nd, both the men’s and women’s swim team at RJR finished second place in the Conference Championships. Alongside them was their coach Caroline Brunson, who was recently announced Central Piedmont Conference Coach of the Year. With the two teams combined, they hold 10 All-Conference swimmers and the Central Piedmont Conference Swimmer of the Year. On February 13th, both teams will be competing in Regionals. If all goes well at Regionals, the teams would progress into the State Championships. However, this year’s Championships will be nothing like Championship events in the past. 

“Regionals have always been an extremely competitive and intense meet in normal seasons with eight swimmers qualifying in each event,” senior captain Jeff Echols said. “However with only three swimmers in each event this season, it makes the stakes even higher.”

Making changes and adjustments has been the name of the game for all high school sports teams, and the swim teams were very aware of the constant change. Having so much change had some effects on the team’s chemistry, especially at the beginning of the season. 

The team this year isn’t quite as close as past years because we haven’t had opportunities like pasta dinners to bond,” says junior Jane Fitzgerald. “ But there’s definitely still a really supportive group of swimmers every meet.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams hold so much talent that the motivation, as well as the competitiveness within the team, was noticeably there.  

Photo provided by Jane Fitzgerald

“The atmosphere full of fast swimmers definitely drives every one to be their best because not only do we want to beat the competition, we want to beat our teammates too,” says Fitzgerald. “And in a lot of instances we have relays and individuals who want to break records, and everyone is there to support them.”

According to Echols, who was named Conference Player of the Year, all this achievement is just a representation of his coaches. 

“I credit being Conference Swimmer of the Year to the support of my coaches,” Echols said.“They push me to work hard and be better every single day, which has helped me improve this season. Not only do they make me swim tough workouts at practice, but they encourage me and give me the confidence I need to know that I can swim faster.”

The RJR swim teams will head to Huntersville to compete in Regionals in order to potentially advance to a field in the State Finals that is significantly reduced. This adds to the pressures of competing for limited spots, but for Echols, the pressure adds to the excitement. 

“Regionals is one of those meets where everyone swims fast because they know how important it is. This makes it really fun and exciting because you get to cheer on your friends and see them do well.” Echols said, “I’m looking forward to getting to swim in my last regionals because it’s a chance to cheer on my teammates and hopefully qualify for the State Championships.”