Just as it was getting fun, the end of another high school swim season is drawing ever closer.
Before early morning practices end and swimmers put their trunks away until next fall, there is still plenty business to be handled.
Grand Strand area swim teams will take to the Pepper Geddings Recreational Center pool on Saturday, hoping to leave with a region title and an opportunity to compete for more next weekend at the state swim meet in Columbia.
“We often call it a ‘microwave season,’ ” said Myrtle Beach swim coach Michael Angwin. “That may be the toughest thing about it, the fact that we start first and end three to four weeks before other sports do. You cannot have a day off here or there, it is something requiring devotion and dedication, and you have to improve quickly to get better.
“The hope is, that by this time of year, you’re swimming your best, because that is what you’re expecting from your competition.”
Swim teams from Region VI-5A and Region VII-4A will compete in the event. Squads from Georgetown and Waccamaw – members of Region VI-3A – will also take part, sharpening their skills before the state meet at the University of South Carolina Aquatics Center.
Few have less to lose at the meet than Waccamaw coach David Dear, each of the Warriors’ nine swimmers having qualified for the state swim meet.
“Really, I like where the team is at,” he said. “Our eyes are more on states than tomorrow. We view it more as a dress rehearsal. … Mainly, we’re looking to cut or better our swim times.”
Taking center stage at the region meet, however, will be the girls competition in Region VII-4A, particularly local rivals Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and St. James
“It should make for some good competition,” Angwin said. “The girls side has some awesome swimmers, St. James has been good but we’ve seen North Myrtle Beach improve with each and every week. We’ll have our hands full.”
Due to SAT testing taking place that morning, the swim meet will start at 3 p.m. with senior participants from each team being acknowledged. Competition will begin at 3:15 p.m.
Five races to watch
Girls 100-yard-breastroke: Sumter’s Meredith Walsh and Carolina Forest’s Taylor Steele swam a close race at the Ripley’s Invitational, Meredith out-swimming her region rival by eight hundredths of a second. The two match up once again on Saturday.
Boys 100 backstroke: A trio of Grand Strand swimmers (Myrtle Beach’s Isaiah Ivey and Sean McGonigal; St. James’ Casey Mitchell) posted top-10 times statewide this season in the event, and has the potential to make for a competitive sprint to the wall.
Boys 200-yard freestyle: Myrtle Beach’s Ian Morgan and St. James’ Casey Mitchell posted near exact times in the 200-yard freestyle, setting the stage for a duel between the two Saturday at the Pepper Geddings swimming pool.
Girls 200-yard medley relay: West Florence posted the best time in Region VI-5A this season, swimming a 1:57.44 at the Ripley’s Invitational. Carolina Forest will be its top competition, though, less than two seconds behind in the same event.
Boys 500-yard freestyle: Myrtle Beach’s Ian Morgan’ swam a state-best 5:01.37 last weekend at the Dreher Invitational in Columbia. St. James’ Casey Mitchell was not far off the mark, however, swimming a 5:04.20 last month at the Ripley’s Invitational.