Marlins prepare for title challenge
The Marshall County Marlins hosted the Race Swim League regular season finale versus the Shelbyville Sharks at the Lewisburg Recreational Center on Thursday as both teams prepared for the league championship event on Saturday.
"This takes a lot volunteer work and a lot of help from the parents," Marlins' coach Jeff Borne said. "It can't take one person, it takes every single volunteer to line kids up, to set up events, to tear down the equipment, and it's just a community effort."
Although the Marlins went down in defeat versus the powerful Sharks, Marlins head coach Jeff Borne was very upbeat about his young squad heading into Saturday's championship meet hosted by the Sewanee Tiger Sharks at the University of the South.
"We didn't do too badly, we are coasting into our championships next week," Borne said. "We performed well, we just took on the best teams in the league. They won, they won handily and that's why they are one of the best teams in the league."
The Race Swim League consists of Lewisburg, Shelbyville, Sewanee, Winchester, McMinnville, Tullahoma, Fayetteville, Manchester, Lawrenceburg and Athens, Alabama.
The Marshall County Swim Club has seen tremendous growth in recent years, growing from a 22-member squad to almost 70 swimmers under Borne, who took the reins a few years ago.
"It is just now starting to sink in here in Marshall County," Borne said. "A lot of people don't know we have swim, a lot of people don't understand what swimming is. It's a new sport, so we are just plugging away trying to get kids interested."
Borne also created the high school swim team in 2013 that has student athletes from all three Marshall County high schools.
"Now we have a whole program where we have little kids from four years old to 19 that can swim in this league and have something to look forward to in high school," Borne stated.
The Sharks dominated the Lewisburg event, beating the Marlins 436-151, but Marshall County did win many first place ribbons in the 69-event schedule, including the Girls 9-10 year old 100-meter freestyle team relay as Anna Grace Bradley, Cleyre Ouroboros, Anna Slater and Hailey Slater finished with a time of 1:19:22, a full nine seconds faster than Shelbyville.
Gabby Cheatham (14-years old) had a big night, winning the 50-meter Butterfly, 50-meter Backstroke and the 100-meter Individual Medley.
Alli Wells (12-years old) won both the Girls 9-12 year old 100-meter Individual Medley (1:39:33) and the 50-meter Fly (50:26).
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are just around the corner, beginning at Rio de Janeiro in a couple of weeks and Borne said his athletes have been paying attention to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Omaha, Nebraska last week.
"I think they watch and pay attention, especially Michael Phelps (18 Olympic Gold Medals-most decorated Olympian of all-time) and some of their other favorites and I think it is awesome because it sparks them and shows them what it takes to compete at another level," Borne said. "The Olympics will be a big promotion to us, without us even promoting."
Other Marshall County winners from Thursday night were:
Boys 13-14 year old 50-meter Freestyle: Isaiah Morton (33:45)
Girls 15-18 year old 50-meter Freestyle: Carleigh Kaufmann (35:57)
Girls 8U 25-meter Breaststroke: Gillian McKnight (38:10)
Girls 9-10 year old 25-meter Breaststroke: Claira Wakefield (36:64)
Girls 11-12 year old 50-meter Breaststroke: Abbie Collins (54:80)
Girls 9-12 year old 100-meter Individual Medley Alli Wells (1:39:33)