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Dolphins overcome early questions in season

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Swimming

By Mike Farner

HILLVIEW - A common word in the sports world is ‘rebuilding.’

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For the Bullitt County Dolphins, the 2009 summer swim season will best be known for the word ‘relocating.’

Just a few weeks before the season was supposed to begin, the long running summer program was without a home. At one point, there wasn’t a viable option available as a ‘fall-back’ plan. The season was hanging by a thread as the Bullitt County Parks and Recreation and Bullitt County Fiscal Court looked at ways of opening any pool within the county this summer as new national laws required expensive safety plans.

Finally, at nearly the last minute, Fiscal Court decided to spend the money to get the pool at Maryville Elementary School operational as soon as possible. Unfortunately, all the Dolphin equipment was housed at the pool at Bullitt Central.

Acting quickly, the Dolphin parents got the lane lines painted in the Maryville pool just before water went in. It took a two day move to load the group’s shed and supplies onto a truck for the move north to the temporary location.

Just in time, the team was moved and the season was saved.

Oh yeah, all of this happened under a new coach. Long-time coach Melissa Cannon opted to take a season off after having a daughter. The reins were turned over to 18-year old Savannah Caudill who grew up swimming with the Dolphins.

Cannon did keep an eye on the team and even conducted practices over the final week of the season when Caudill had to take care of some duties at Western Kentucky University where she just completed her freshman year of college.

“Melissa wanted to take a maternity leave and I decided I would go ahead and take it,” Caudill said after a recent practice. I’ve been her assist for a few years and I enjoy it. I’ve had lots of fun.”

Caudill was part of the Dolphin program for 13 years. She was part of the first high school team at Bullitt Central and has also been a part of USA (United Swimming Association) swim programs in Elizabethtown and Louisville.

Still, with the Bullitt County schools being in session into early June, the summer swim season in 2009 is even shorter than normal. The Dolphins had just a few practices before the Monday night meets began. The Louisville Fun League championship was last Saturday, ending the season for the program.

With all the question marks before the season began, the program did have trouble attracting some swimmers. The total number this summer in the program is only 64, the lowest number in more than a decade.

“It’s been quite a bit with all the problems with the pool opening,” Caudill said of getting all the pieces in place. “We didn’t know we would have a team until the last minute. Some kids committed to other sports before they knew there would be a team.”

There really turned out to be very few new swimmers while most who had been in the program for a number of years came back. Part of that stems from the fact that the swim programs at the three Bullitt County high schools continues to expand so many of the older swimmers are using the summer season to stay in shape for the more competitive winter season.

“We have a lot of older swimmers, more than I expected,” Caudill said. “I’m very pleased with all of my swimmers, especially the older kids. I know there is not a lot of difference in my age and their ages, but they have been working hard and many of them have been helping out with the younger swimmers.”

The Bullitt County Dolphins are not a high-intensity, super-competitive program. They are more an entry-level team where swimmers learn the basics. There are meets where they can challenge themselves, but the goal for these swimmers is not the Olympics.

“It’s a summer fun league,” Caudill said. “I want them to learn sportsmanship and be respectful of the other swimmers. If we don’t get first or second in the league I’m fine with that as long as they have fun and learn respect.”

For most of the team members, the eight week summer season with the Dolphins is not the only swimming they do. Many are involved in a USA program including Cardinal Aquatics at the University of Louisville on a year-round basis.

During most of the season, the team conducted practices for four days a week. Caudill would work with the older and more experienced team members from 8 to 9 a.m. each morning before the beginning and younger swimmers jumped into the water from 9 to 10 a.m. The last hour, from 10 to 11 p.m., was set aside for the more advanced swimmers who are also part of the USA programs and the high school teams.

Caudill is getting help this summer from two who are younger than she is. The assistant coach is Emily Glavinos who is 16-years old and attends Assumption High School. Alex Hutchins, who is also 16, helps with practice but also swims in the meets. Hutchins swims for Bullitt East in the winter.

With the lower numbers on this summer’s team, Caudill was expecting the team to make a run at the big trophy in the Louisville Fun League Championship Meet held last Saturday at the Mary T. Meagher Natatorium.

“I think with our numbers down that it will be hard plan for a championship,” Caudill said. “As long as they have a good time and show sportsmanship and maybe a few personal bests then I’ll be happy. I would love it if we could win the sportsmanship trophy.”

The first-year coach is also promoting something else this summer.

“I’m stressing to them to be a team player,” Caudill said. “Most people think of swimming as an individual sport, but I want them to remember to cheer the others on.”

Caudill is having a good time this summer, but she won’t mind handing the job back to Cannon next season.

“It’s definitely more than I expected,” the nursing student said with a smile. “I expected the swimming part and giving them a lot of advice. But there is all the paperwork and getting the meets ready and the move. I’m glad to get my feet on the ground. The small numbers this year were a blessing in disguise for my first year.”

The members of the Bullitt County Dolphins this summer include: Kendra Adams, Amber Appleby, Jonathan Appleby, Patrick Barney, Emily Brumley and Todd Brumley.

Blake Caudill, Chase Caudill, Hannah Cook, Nathan Cook, Alex Cooke, Ashley Cooke, Nick Cooper, McGwire Corley, Meredith Cundiff, Kelli Curtsinger, Cameron Dossey, Chaeli Dossey, Daniel Flowers, Sarah Flowers, Dylan Gaw, Ezra Gish, Madison Gish, Victoria Gish, Alyssa Glavinos, Jack Gordon, Michael Grace, Sydney Hill, Wesley Hill, Alex Hutchins, Katie Jackson and Nick Jackson.

Savanah Leake, Elizabeth Maddox, Bradley Mhahffey, Zachary Mahaffey, Daren Mason, Hayleyh Mason, Veronica McCoy, Lindsey Miles, Marshall Myers, Elizabeth Norton, Evan Reister, Chris Rice, Sydney Shirley, Kara Joy Stivers, Kayla Faith Stivers, Michael Charles Stivers, Cody Thomas, Kaitlyn Thomas and Mariah Thomas.

Evette Thompson, Madison Thompson, McKenzie Thompson, Taylor Thompson, Lane Webb, Callie Whelan, Brooke White, Sydney White, Megan Wilkerson and Carrie Wohlschlegel.