by: Haylee Hedrick and Adrian Blair
Michael Jordan, Elvis Presley, Gene Kelly, Tom Brady and Albert Einstein are looked at as superior for dominating within their field. They showcase power and influence over others — otherwise known as dominance.
The JHS boys and girls swim teams have been dominating within the Hoosier Hills for years, gradually beating fierce competitors and overcoming tough obstacles.
Second-year head coach Mike Pepa has witnessed his team push themselves to success.
“From a school standpoint, I think we’re one of the most successful programs in the building as far as our record in the conference, how we place at conference, Sectionals and at state,” Pepa said. “I think we’re probably one of the top three programs in the school building over the last 6-8 years, as far as dominance compared to our conference.”
There are over 3,000 high school girl swimmers throughout the Hoosier state, which correlates into over 200 teams. The girls JHS swim team are ranked 24 out of those 244 teams.
This year, the girls won all 12 dual meets in the Hoosier Hills Conference, as well as the conference championship meet. The swimmers, along with the girls basketball team, were the only JHS team to go undefeated during conference play.
On Feb. 4, the girls took home first place at Sectionals. Jeffersonville was down 48 points going into the second half of the meet due to the fact that there currently aren’t any divers on the team. With that in consideration, the meet came down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, where Jeff took home first place to edge Floyd Central 465-464.
“Our biggest issue has been not having enough divers,” said Junior Caroline Elliot. “We had two new girl divers who were ineligible to compete in meets due to not having enough dives, and our other diver suffered an injury just before conference leaving us without any divers during Sectional.”
At Sectional, the team broke two Sectional records, two pool records and three school records.
Senior Jacqueline Richard was part of a school record-breaking 200 medley relay. Senior Adeline Dixon broke her own school records in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Junior Rachel Walker also broke her own record in the 200. Walker’s goal is to win a state meet by the time she graduates from JHS.
“Rachel Walker is our fastest girl swimmer. She’s one of the fastest high school swimmers in the state of Indiana,” Pepa said.
Walker qualified for the state finals in both of her events. She qualified fifth in the 500, with her time leaving her in the top seven in the state. She finished 14th in the 200.
The team is also poised to be good in the future, as well. Freshman Megan McEwen and fellow freshman Alyssa Miller, were both part of the 200 freestyle relay that placed second.
“We have two freshmen that made huge impact on the girls team: Megan McEwen and Alyssa Miller,” Pepa said. “Our two most improved swimmers on the girls team are Emma Ellis and Tonya Williams. They did a heck of a job this year compared to last year.”
The boys team lost seven swimmers from last year. Though thin in numbers, their season was a successful one, consisting of placing in conference despite being made up of mostly underclassmen.
“We’re in a little bit of a re-building phase, but we have the benefit of having some really strong swimmers from the front side, and then developing some new swimmers would be great,” Pepa said.
While the loss of seven boys swimmers stung, it was cause for a total team reconstruction. First-year boys swimmer Kip Jackson believes that the boys team is just a few guys away from being even more dominant.
“This year, we have a very young team, mostly freshman and sophomores. So we are seeing where the underclassmen fit best, whether it be relays or individual events,” Jackson, a junior, said. “There are only four seniors on the boys team and three seniors on the girls team. Hopefully after summer training, we will be back on top next year because I know we are all hungry for that Sectional title.”
On Jan. 28, the boys placed as conference runner-up behind Floyd Central. The Red Devils had three individual conference champions: sophomore Kameron Case with two (100 and 200 freestyle), and freshman Carter Dilger with one (100 butterfly.)
“For boys, Kameron Case was fastest in conference in his events, Levin Martin was very strong in his event, and we have Carter Dilger, who hopefully will have the opportunity to go to state maybe even place at state in his event,” Pepa said.
Dilger was top three in the state for 14-and-under in 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Case said his fastest event was the 200 yard freestyle. His time for that was 1:48.
The boys also placed third in Sectional, losing to Seymour (second) and Floyd (first). Case placed first in the 100 (48:07) and 200 (1:44.73). Both Dilger and Case with also be representing JHS at the state finals on Feb. 25.
The rest of the story …
Most athletes have a certain amount of time they must abide by when it comes to their performance. However, swimming is one of the few sports that doesn’t have that.
“We don’t have to worry about playing time…we worry about the clock. The clock doesn’t lie,” Pepa said.
In swimming, dropping a few seconds off of your last time is viewed as a success.
“Everyone has the same goal, whether you’re trying to be in the Olympics or whether this is your first season you’ve ever swam competitively,” Pepa said. “(That goal is) a personal best time.”
While swimming is a strenuous and time-consuming sport, Pepa believes the athletes on his team are some of the best around the school.
“It’s motivating to be around student athletes who perform well in the classroom and constantly try to reach their goal and potential,” Pepa said. “Swimming is not an easy sport. It’s an awful lot of hours and it’s very demanding. It all weighs on you mentally as well.”
In total, most of the JHS swim team trains 18 hours and 45 minutes a week to better their performance, further proving their devotion to the sport.
“Training hard, having dedication, and consequently reaching your potential faster than anybody else that we compete against — to me that’s dominance,” Pepa said.