LOUISVILLE – Despite not have a home swimming pool and with only a limited feeder program, the Bullitt County High School Swimming Team is not an area powerhouse.
Still, long-time head coach Laura Meyer continues to plug away and she will have 30 athletes competing this week in the Region Two Swimming and Diving Meet at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium.
Over the past several years, Meyer’s numbers have hovered around 30. This year, Bullitt Central picked up two swimmers to join Alex Skidmore while Bullitt East has 17 swimmers and North Bullitt has 12 (two swimmers in the program will not compete in the regional meet).
Meyer runs a joint program representing all three Bullitt County High Schools. The swimmers all practice together, three nights a week at the University of Louisville pool. When it comes to the meets, the swimmers break down and represent their own schools.
Without an indoor swimming facility in Bullitt County, Meyer believes that 30 swimmers is about what the program will have on a yearly basis. Given a best case scenario question, Meyer mentioned that a roster closer to 40 would be a boon and would give the squads a chance to field full teams for the meets including the relays where a lot of the points are earned in high school swimming meets.
Of the 32 team members this year, Meyer said that 25 were part of the program last season. This year, there are four seniors representing Bullitt East and another two from North Bullitt. That means that the program will start with about 25 for next season and can build from that.
Meyer started the Bullitt County program seven years ago.
The program started practice on Oct. 1 with 40 swimmers. Because of jobs and school work, that number whittled down to 32. Two of the team members just wanted to be part of the program, but did not participate in any of the competitive meets.
“If I could get 35 or 36 that would be great,” Meyer said after a recent practice at the University of Louisville pool. “But we only have four lanes at a time. It would be nice to have more boys and then more Bullitt Central swimmers.”
Meyer did point out that there is a shortage of boys overall swimming in the program as that number stands at nine.
In recent years, the program had Caroline Lee (North Bullitt) and Mason Turlington (Bullitt East) who competed at the highest level of high school swimming in Kentucky. They have both graduated with Lee now at the University of Evansville swimming while Turlington is attending VMI.
Going into this week’s regional meet, Meyer thinks that Bullitt East sophomore Kelli Rae Alcorn can advance to state as she will compete in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events. Her best event is at 200 yards. Meyer also mentioned Bullitt East senior Evan Reister as a contender to get the regional finals in the breaststroke as well as Charger senior Nick Crawhorn in the freestyle events.
Alcorn swims outside of the high school season with the Cardinal Aquatic team and there are five others who are part of USA programs either in Louisville or Elizabethtown. Some of the younger swimmers might also be part of the summer program with the Dolphins’ team (the former Bullitt County Dolphins).
For the rest of the swimmers, the high school season is pretty much their only competitive swimming outlet. Even in that context, Meyer points out that there are some in her program that are more a part of a team than seeking out competitive events.
Meyer would like to have better contact with the Dolphins, but that just hasn’t worked out, mainly because the six-week summer season for that program falls during the two-week dead period when high school coaches can’t have contact with athletes.
Meyer does try to attend the freshman orientation that each of the three high schools conduct in August for new students where she will hand out flyers and invite swimmers to the team. Other than that, it is pretty much just word of mouth to get new swimmers to join the program.
This week’s Region II Championships will start on Friday with qualifying. The top finishers will return to the pool on Saturday for the finals and consolation races.
After the top two finishers in each event advance to the state meet in each region, the next best times can also qualify. Since Region II (the Louisville region) is so strong as many as eight to ten in each event at the regional can advance to the state meet which will be at the University of Louisville Feb. 22-23.
Once again this season, Meyer has two assistant coaches – Kim Alcorn and Katie Flischel.
Team members for this swim season included:
Bullitt Central – Sierra Adkins, Alexandria Skidmore and Ariel Westwood.
Bullitt East – Kelli Alcorn, Silvana Benanti, Emily Brumley, Todd Bryumley, Kyarra Carroll. Nick Crawhorn, Hunter Hardin, Kelsey Hill, Sydney Hill, Savanna Leake, Ashley Moats, Savannah Pierce, Evan Resiter, Paige Schabel, Madison Spencer, Sydney White and Caleb Wikman.
North Bullitt – Lexus Atkinson, Blake Caudill, Chase Caudill, Mark Clark, Madison Holland, Brixton Jacobs, Samantha Kenney, Abigail Potts, Emily Schmidt, Mary Schmidt, Callie Sparks and Brooke White.