Thanks to a new high school swim program and a strong group of youth participants, the future appears to be bright for swimming in Carroll County.
With a fifth-place finish in the Blue Ridge Swim League Conference Championships earlier this month, the Carroll Wellness Center Tigersharks completed the best season in the 10-year history of the program. Joi Ogle, who will be head coach of the Carroll County High School swim team this summer and also serves as a volunteer coach for the Tigersharks, said there are several factors in the CWC swim team’s ascension.
“I think a lot of it is the coaching. We were fortunate enough to have three or four of us helping, which gives them a little more individual attention,” Ogle said. “A lot of the kids are sticking with it. They started at a very young age at 6 and under and some of them have moved up to the 7-8 or 9-10 (age groups). We are seeing those that are starting much younger placing and bringing us a lot of points at conference. Our older swimmers are doing well also and they also started at a young age. I think that is the key – starting young and developing that love for swimming.”
Ogle is ecstatic about the possibility of the Tigersharks and the new high school swim program, which was approved by the Carroll County School Board in July, working hand-in-hand with each other.
“It is very exciting,” ogle said. “It is very sad when you look around, so many of the high schools around us have a high school swim team. We have a wonderful facility to practice at and we haven’t had a team until now. The kids are excited, too. Out of just talking to our 15-18-year old boys on the Tigersharks and some of girls, every single one of them is planning on swimming on the high school team and they are very pumped about it.”
Ogle said the Tigersharks have some phenomenal 15-18 year-old swimmers that she is excited about working with in the new high school program. Kaleb Payne dominated for CWC in the 13-14 boys’ age group, winning all three individual events he competed in at the Blue Ridge Swim League Conference Championships – the 50 meter Individual Medley, the 50 meter backstroke, and the 50 meter butterfly. He earned 48 points for CWC at the conference championship to lead the team in scoring. Brett Bowman was the next highest point-scorer in the older boys’ groups for the Tigersharks with 36 points, placing second in both the 50 meter freestyle and 50 meter breaststroke in the 13-14 age group.
CWC’s top scoring female swimmer was Emily Goad, who finished with 20 points, while Madison Stone tallied 16 points at the conference championship. Wyatt Ogle led the Tigersharks in 10 & under competition, finishing with 43 points after winning both his freestyle and backstroke events at the in the 7-8 age group. Camden DeHaven finished with 36 points for CWC, finishing second in the 25 meter freestyle and third in the 25 meter backstroke in the 7-8 boys events. Ethan Richardson added 33 points and Bradley Dalton scored 22 points for the team at the conference finals. Kayleigh Reynolds tallied 32 points for the Tigersharks in girls’ 10 & under competition, while Audrey Hurst and Sarah Alderman also performed well.
Originally from West Virginia, Ogle starting swimming when she was eight for the Welch Stingrays. She swam for 11 seasons with the team. Even though Welch didn’t have an indoor pool to practice in like CWC has or a high school swim team, she learned the importance of taking up the sport at an early age. It is something she has tried to pass on to her children, Wyatt and Paige.
“Just the possibility of us being able to have an indoor pool to practice in at the Wellness Center is so good for our kids. I had Wyatt in the water at six months and he has gotten a lot of attention – not pushing him, but just getting him acclimated to the water,” Ogle said. “He has never been scared and it is definitely paying off. He has been involved in other sports, but this is the one where I see an aggressive side of Wyatt. I have a four-year-old girl who is doing well and will probably be able to swim this summer. We are trying to be able to get her to swim the length of the pool at the age of four, so I do think it is important to get them started early.”
Ogle has also seen the interest in swimming continue to rise in Carroll County. She said many of the varsity coaches at the high school have asked her about the program because they know the sport is a great conditioning tool that can carry over into other sports. It should also work well with the Tigersharks because the high school season is a winter sport, while the CWC season runs during the spring and summer. She praised the Tigersharks’ coaches – head coach Roseanne Black and assistants Beth King and Cameron Edmonds – for helping take the program to new levels.
If you are interested in getting your child involved in the Carroll Wellness Center swimming program, the Tigersharks participate in youth conditioning from October to mid-March on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. During this time, swimmers are taught the four competitive strokes and work to improve their conditioning and learn how to swim competitively. The program is free to members of the Carroll Wellness Center or costs $150 for six months for non-members. The Tigersharks’ swim season begins in April with practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Anyone interested may contact Roseanne Black or Beth King at the Carroll Wellness Center at (276) 728-2500.
Additionally, Ogle will be holding an interest meeting at the high school after Labor Day.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]