The Fort Benning Dolphins made the best of an unfortunate situation Saturday in what was supposed to be their first competitive swim meet against another team. However, the team they invited to compete against, the Columbus Barracudas, withdrew.
Dolphins coach Heika Horning decided to proceed with the Friendship Swim Competition at the Briant Wells Indoor Poor so her swimmers could get a taste of competitive swimming. Horning said there was a conflict in the age limit of the competition, which was open to swimmers ages 10-18.
“I wanted to make it a friendship event between our swim team and other swim teams,” Horning said, “but due to the fact that we’re only taking kids from 10-18, the other teams backed out and said if they couldn’t bring all their swimmers, they couldn’t participate.”
The event held individual medley heats in the breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
Among the notable swimmers, Raegan Shoe won the first heat of the 50-meter breastroke as well as the first heat in the 50-meter freestyle. Charlie Vicars won the 100-meter breaststroke, the second heat of the 50-meter butterfly and the 100-meter butterfly.
JongHyun Jung won the 100-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter freestyle while Zachary Rodriguez took the second heat of the 50-meter freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke.
In spite of not getting good starts on his jumps, Rodriguez set a new personal best time in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 37.76.
Rodriguez said he made up for that lost time by sprinting and getting good kicks off his turns.
“I didn’t do as well because my goggles kept coming off when I dived in, but I eventually redeemed myself when I did my turns,” Rodriguez said.
Katherine Dixon, who won the 100-meter backstroke, said being on the Dolphins swim team has given her opportunities to become a better swimmer she didn’t have before.
“The last swim team I was on wasn’t very good or challenging,” Dixon said. “This one is actually helping me prepare for high school swim teams.”
Despite teams backing out of the Friendship Swim Competition, Horning said the event was a good first step in getting her team the experience it needs.
Horning said with some help, she can move the Dolphins toward competing consistently throughout the year.
“I need other volunteer swim coaches so this team can grow and go and compete nationally,” Horning said. “The goal is to get them in consistent competition. My goal is to have them be a year-round swim team.”