Homecoming: Area swim teams return to KSD pool

Published 11:17 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

Boyle County, Danville and Lincoln County share a unique bond in the pool.

On Wednesday, that bond grew stronger.

The trio of area teams swam in the Kentucky School for the Deaf pool for the first time since January 2008 — nearly 10 years.

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For the three head coaches — Crystal Ellis at Boyle County, John Anderson at Danville and Emily Anderson at Lincoln County — it’s a homecoming of sorts. All three swam at the KSD pool, and Ellis was the head coach at Boyle before the pool closed.

“It’s just a lot of fun being back in here,” John Anderson said. “I was telling Crystal throughout the whole meet, not many people realize how special this is being back in here. Some of us were just going through it like, ‘well, here I am at a swim meet.’ I know for the coaches, we were so happy to be back in here. Then my mom came in at the end, and she said it brought back a lot of memories. I remember coming here as a fifth grader watching my older sister swim and playing in the halls and watching swim meets. This is home to me. It’s good to be back home, for sure.”

It was special for coach Ellis coming back as head coach.

“I know both Emily and John swam here, but they’ve never coached here. The first six years of my coaching career I coached here,” she said. “Ever since 2008 when the pool was shut down, I’ve been the one hoping ‘next year’s the year.’ For it to finally be here, it’s really special. This meet tonight was sort of hectic, we had a bunch of new parents, new swimmers and a different high school format so I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted. But I took pictures, it’s really special. “

Emily Anderson said her team didn’t really understand the importance of being there — and some needed directions.

“When I told them that the meet was at KSD, they didn’t even know where KSD was,” she said. “They didn’t know where the pool was. They don’t realize that we haven’t swam in this pool in years. But it feels great to be back and be in our own pool, not travel every week and put that on the parents and kids.”

Boyle won the event — Boyle boys finished with 88 points, Lincoln boys with 51 and Danville boys with 35.

Boyle girls placed first with 81 points, Danville girls 62 and Lincoln with 29.

It was meet No. 2 for the teams and the rust was there, but just being back in the water and getting back in the swing of things “at home” was a big boost.

“This is our second meet,” John Anderson said. “We have a few kids that have some more meets underneath them, but as a whole, this is our second meet and first meet here at home. We’re training a lot of our parents, how to time, what to do, what is expected here now that we’re hosting meets. It’s all schools, and that’s what is cool: Lincoln is in on it, too. It used to just be Boyle and Danville. Now with Lincoln coming along, there were some great races tonight and a lot of good competition.

“I was so excited to see everybody back. I didn’t expect it to look quite like this. Both teams are bigger, I know swimming, Danville used to struggle to put together four girls, and I have almost 20 now. Both teams are bigger and a little bit better. It’s just good to be back in here.”

Numbers are up across the board: Lincoln has one more swimmer than last year at 14, Danville is up and Boyle has 60 — 30 boys and 30 girls.

“Really, a lot of them stood out,” Ellis said. “A lot of our new kids stood out. Cora Gilbert is an eighth grader, Peyton Guerrant, some of my senior girls, Ashton Cox, Natalie Hayes, she’s been out and didn’t swim much with us last year but she’s back in the pool, which is great. She’ll be a great help. Boys, Campbell Coyle, Zach Frazier, Creed Farthing, Hunter Hayes, they all did really well. I’ll be interested to see times when I look in-depth tomorrow and see what they did, how they ranked. But they all did well. There are some things that I saw that I know now that we need to work on.”

Lincoln is the newest team out of the three, anchored by two siblings: Sophomore Woods Smith leads the boys’ team and seventh-grader Katie Beth Smith is one of the leaders on the girls’ side.

“They just want it so bad, you can see it on their face,” Emily Anderson said. “They get out of the pool after they think it’s a bad swim, and you can read it all over their face. You have to tell them that it was great. Woods is a sophomore and Katy-Beth is in seventh grade. She’s beating high schoolers and she’s not realizing what she’s doing. She’s getting times that high schoolers can’t even get. And she wants to be faster. It’s exciting to see a seventh grader that wants to beat seniors and then go out and do it.”

Woods is pushing the rest of the boys team because they are all competitive, the coach said.

“My boys are really wanting it, with how good Woods is. They’re all wanting to be up there with him,” Emily Anderson said. “At practice you can tell a difference and then times drop during the meet and they get excited. It’s fun watching these high-school kids get excited over a time. Usually it’s little kids that say ‘yay, I dropped a time!’”

John noted a handful that stood out to him: Grace Crawford won the 50-yard breaststroke with a 33.92 time.

“She looked really good to me,” John Anderson said. “We had the Akers twins, they’ve been at basketball a lot. They’ve been to a few practices but this was their first swim meet. They’re going through playing basketball and swimming. There’s not a lot of people that do that. I’ve been in contact with (new girls basketball coach Clifford Berry) about how to share these talented athletes. He’s excited about them, I’m excited about them. They haven’t had much practice but they looked good tonight. I know they were tired. I thought they had a good meet with the limited pool time they’ve had. Elizabeth Nesmith looked good tonight, this was her first meet this year.”

He also noted newcomer Sofia Farmer, as a standout in Wednesday’s meet.

“She just started swimming like last month. Everybody on my team has been swimming for years,” John Anderson said. “But she’s the one that is new to the team, new to me, new to swimming. And she had a really good meet tonight, being her second meet. She won a heat and she’s come a long way since that first practice. It’s the swimmers that don’t swim year around, the ones that start late, those are the ones that you’re excited to see do well because they drop a lot of time. When they start asking about when the next one is, you know you’re doing good things.”

Being an early-season meet, all three coaches know that they’ve got a ways to go.

“We’ve got a long way to go before our championship season in February and March,” John Anderson added. “But it’s good to come in here and set the bar and see where we go from here. We have some kids that aren’t entirely happy with their times, and that’s good. I want you to not be happy with your time. But it’s December, we’ve got a long way to go.”

Given the amount of players returning, Ellis is excited about the seasons to come.

“Last week we had our first meet and I had over a page of best times from last year,” she said. “When you’re at the first meet of the year and you have that many kids carry over from last season, you know you’re going to have a good year.”