More is merrier for Cyclone swim team

Elizabethton Swim Team

By Jeff Birchfield

   Last season, the Elizabethton High School swim team struggled at times to find enough boys to fill one relay team. This season, there are enough participants to easily field two teams.
   "This is the first time we've had enough swimmers out to have two boys relay teams," said EHS head coach Jonell Johnson. "With all the new boys out, there are as many boys as girls. It thrills me to no end."
   Twelve boys and an almost equal number of girls coming out for the sport have brought a new enthusiasm to the program.
   "I'm really excited about this season," stated Johnson. "What I see with their dedication to the team, the quality of swimmers, there is no reason we can't be better than ever before."
   On the boys' side, Blake Dugger will be the main person expected to star early on. He has set a goal of breaking the school's oldest standing record, the 100 butterfly set in 1993 by Brian Lindauer.
   The Lindauer name means a strong tradition at EHS, with Evan Lindauer looking to further his own record-setting career with the Cyclones after he recuperates from a shoulder injury suffered during football season.
   Another family tradition will be carried on with Eric Crowe, younger brother of another record setter from last season, Charlie Crowe. Eric is carving out his own niche competing in the 100 breaststroke, an event that his older brother rarely tried.
   Crowe is a two-sport athlete, also playing soccer along with sophomore swimmer Trey Snyder. Other sophomores on the squad are Justin Conway and Jeremy Woods. Along with Dugger, Lindauer and Crowe, another member with varsity experience for the Cyclones will be Craig Shaw.
   Matt Bowers, who swam for the junior high program at T.A. Dugger, has returned to the pool as a high school junior and should provide an immediate boost to the relay teams.
   The freshman class offers up a handful of newcomers: Garritt Coetzee, Forrest Gentry, Garrett Johnson, Jacob May and Ryan Strickland.
   Johnson is a swimmer that his coach sees with a lot of potential. She compared him to the aforementioned Charlie Crowe when he first came into the program -- a solid athlete, still rough in technique, but someone who loves to go fast.
   The girls' side of the program should be just as talented, led by a trio of returners from last season. Alissa Walker, Sarah Key and Lindsay Norris were all top performers on last year's squad.
   Two juniors come in with aspirations of being key players on the team. Sarah Burgoyne swam for the Atomic City Aquatic Team and Oak Ridge High School last season. She has already been timed as the fastest swimmer on this year's team. Meanwhile, Maria Francisco enters as a talented soccer player who is giving competitive swimming a try for the first time.
   The freshman class is loaded with potential, including the coach's daughter, Ruth Ann, a veteran of the Barracuda swim team.
   Rebecca Ward is another freshman in the program along with Darby Crawford, who will be making her Cyclone debut. Her older brother Kit was a swimmer for EHS before the family relocated to Nashville. Now, they have moved back to the area and Darby wants to be help the team improve on last season's marks.
   The final two from the ninth-grade class are Amber Garland and Danielle Maughon. Although neither have swam competitive before, the coach expressed both were very good and should have little problem catching up to girls on the team with more experience.
   The total sum of female swimmers makes the coach feel this team could reach some lofty goals.
   "Our relay teams could easily break some records," said Johnson. "I feel confident we could also place higher at the conference meet than we ever have."
   The amount of crossover athletes from other sports has continued to increase, a good sign for the future of the swimming program. The budding middle school program at T.A. Dugger has been another positive.
   "I think the kids have figured out that swimming is a good sport for conditioning," said Johnson. "It's especially valuable for those in soccer who use a lot of aerobic activity.
   "The middle school program is definitely paying off. This year we're doing something different. We're putting the jr. high kids in with the high school swimmers in practice. Although it has reduced the members on the jr. high team, we feel it will make those swimming better prepared to move on to the high school team."