Checkered outlook for Elizabethton swim team

By Jeff Birchfield

   One name is all over the record board at the Elizabethton High School swimming pool, Ashley Pierce. The star performer and state qualifier has now graduated, opening up a whole new era for the program.
   "I don't know if there will ever be another swimmer come along like Ashley Pierce," admitted Cyclone swimming coach Jonell Johnson. "Losing her is going to hurt us. Our girls team is just not as strong as it has been. Although we have some girls who have swam all four years and have made improvements every year.
   "Rachael Ruston and Wendy Boone are two returning swimmers whose names should be up there on the record board. They helped win the 200-freestyle record. They're good freestylers who enjoy to swim."
   The two seniors may have the most experience, but juniors Sara Campbell and Crystal Contino will also contend for the top positions. "Crystal is fighting with Rachael and Wendy for the 500-freestyle," commented Johnson. "That makes me really happy to have those three swimmers.
   "Used to, I had to make people swim that event. I'm really looking forward to them stepping up and filling in. We have some really good swimmers."
   Sondra Hinman will be another swimmer taking the challenge for the Lady Cyclones this season. There are 17 girl swimmers to give the Lady Cyclones a deep roster.
   Among the notes of interest includes a role reversal. Senior Allison Muraski, who had swam for three years, is out of the water but is still on the team as a manager. Meanwhile, last year's manager April Fuller gave up that role to swim this season. Fuller is joined on the team by junior classmates Laura Elijah, Sarah Kiser, Whitney Brown, Brittany Hilton and Nicole Hull.
   Kristen McAmis represents the sophomore class. The freshman class is highlighted by Lindsay Norris. "She was on the junior high team," said Johnson. "She came right in and was able to get in with the upperclassmen. I gave her a workout to do and she took to it."
   The ninth-grade class also contributes Glimmer Bentley, Amber Hunt and Whitney Nelson, who is recovering from an injury.
   Much of the attention this season will be focused on their male counterparts, as all but one has prior experience.
   "Our boys team is just real strong," said Johnson. "It used to be that the girls were the strong swimmers and the boys followed along. It has turned now where the boys are our strength. They probably will be our point leaders, when we keep scores for the meets."
   The two expected to lead this parade of talented athletes are two who qualified for the state one season ago.
   "Charlie Crowe and Jeremy Lindauer are both coming back," said Johnson. "Jeremy just started practicing as he had been playing football. He's here with his brother Evan.
   "Charlie hasn't been practicing up to par lately because he injured his shoulder. He's had to be taking it easy. Jeremy has already told me he plans on winning both of his individual events in our first meet. He placed in the top three last year in the sprints. As hard as he's been training, there's no reason why he shouldn't."
   Johnson spoke of the lineage of the Lindauer family as senior Jeremy and sophomore Evan join older brother Brian and sister Diana as swimmers who have excelled in the EHS program.
   On the long distance events, sophomore Blake Dugger and senior Ross Chun are expected to carry the Cyclones this season. "Ross tried distance last year for the first time," explained Johnson. "He used to be our breaststroke swimmer.
   "Blake seems to be wanting to take that place from him. Jeremy also likes to swim distance. Ross and Blake enjoy it. We will see how they all do."
   Sophomore Craig Shaw provides the role as a solid all-around performer, while newcomer Ron Peters fills out the Cyclone roster.
   Many of the Cyclone swimmers got a jump start on the season by participating in Johnson City's Barracuda Swim Club program over the summer.
   "I think that will help us technique-wise quite a bit," said Johnson. "They (the team) are ready to go right now. Ross and Jeremy picked up right where they left off from the summer. The things they learned over the summer is being passed on to the rest of the team."
   The season for EHS opens next Monday when they participate in the Southern Sprint at Sullivan South High School.