By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Coaching a small squad made even smaller by injuries to two key members, Albert Hayton knows the Clinton girls swimming team is at a huge disadvantage when it faces large teams. So, he told his swimmers not to worry about team success Tuesday night when the River Queens made their home debut.
“Before (the meet), Albert said in the locker room not to worry about the team but worry about improving your time because that’s what matters the most,” Clinton’s Nikki Erling said.
Erling, the lone senior on the squad, earned the only victory for the River Queens in a 135-37 loss to Davenport West at the Clinton Aquatic Center.
“... We’re not worried about the meet today or the meet this Saturday, but we’re worried about the end of the season and getting our times where they need to be so potentially some of us could make it to the state meet,” Hayton said. “So, right now we’re just trying to swim to improve technique and see what we can do to just have some better times by the end of the season.”
He said there would be meets where winning was possible, too.
“When we swam against Tipton, we should have won the meet, but we had two DQs that cost us some points,” Hayton said. “They have a small team. Davenport North has a small team, and, if I’m not mistaken, Davenport Central has a small team, too, so there’s opportunities for us to do some things. But, against these large teams, we just don’t have the numbers to back up the second and third positions.”
The River Queens swam without junior Alayna Geronzin, who might miss the season because of a track injury, and sophomore Becca Hess, out with a shoulder injury.
Not only does that take away two of the team’s top swimmers and minimize the depth, it also has an affect at practice.
“Becca is really good at sprinting; she can beat me,” Erling said. “I always have to work on my turns more because she has really good turns, so I miss that part of it.”
Even though there are just 15 swimmers with the team at full strength, Erling spread the credit around for her success. She spoke highly of sophomore Sadie Nickles, who had a pair of second-place finishes, and junior Maddie Marlowe.
“Sadie’s a distance person, so she pushes me in distance, and Maddie’s a sprinter, so I always have someone to race against,” Erling said.
Erling said she had another motivating factor, too.
“I’m trying to get myself back to pre-concussion times,” she said, noting an injury that sidelined her for four months as a sophomore.
Erling’s victory came in the 500-yard freestyle. Her time of 6 minutes, 4.87 seconds, was almost four seconds better than runner-up Janelle Moore of West.
“We did a timed 500 in Saturday’s practice and I went 6:12, and I was racing against Sadie,” Erling said. “Today I dropped eight seconds from Saturday.”
Erling established a lead of 1 1/2 seconds on the opening 50-yard leg and was in control the whole way.
“When I’m swimming I try to take it out really fast and get a lead, then I watch the closest person next to me,” she said.
Erling also picked up runner-up honors in the 200 freestyle, won by West’s Vy Ho in 2:04.15.
“My 50 in the 200 freestyle relay was the fastest it’s been for a while, and that was because Maddie was pushing me at practice,” Erling said. Her 27.78 anchor split almost pulled the Queens into a runner-up finish — they were just .02 behind West’s second unit.
Nickles took second in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. She swam the 100 butterfly in 1:19.18 and the 100 backstroke in 1:16.20.
Nickles also swam on the 200 freestyle relay with Erling, Marlowe and Molly Anderson, and all four also made up the third-place unit in the 400 freestyle relay.
Clinton is back in its home pool Saturday when it welcomes Pekin (Ill.) and the three Davenport public schools for the Clinton Invitational at 9 a.m.
“I get to choose my events, so I’m excited for that,” Erling said.
DAVENPORT WEST 135, CLINTON 37
(Top three, other CHS placers)
200-yard medley relay — 1. West (Catherine Boyer, Alison Walters, Anna Arvanitis, Madison Walker) 2:12.54; 2. West 2:16.59.
200 freestyle — 1. Vy Ho (W) 2:04.15; 2. Nikki Erling (C) 2:16.09; 3. Riley Fox (W) 2:17.82; 5. Molly Anderson (C) 2:48.72; 6. Spencer Edwards (C) 3:30.47.
200 individual medley — 1. Claire Straetker (W) 2:21.84; 2. Walters (W) 2:25.30; 3. Arvanitis (W) 2:33.57.
50 freestyle — 1. Madison Harland (W) 27.05; 2. Courtney Remley (W) 27.66; 3. Maddie Marlowe (C) 30.11; 4. Eliza Mussmann (C) 32.85; 5. Rachel Duray (C) 35.76.
Diving — 1. Boyer (W) 101.40; 2. Meghan Pierce (W) 95.95.
100 butterfly — 1. Remley (W) 1:16.26; 2. Sadie Nickles (C) 1:19.18; 3. Libby Burken (W) 1:33.21.
100 freestyle — 1. Straetker (W) 57.66; 2. Harland (W) 1:02.34; 3. Walker (W) 1:05.37; 4. Marlowe (C) 1:07.86; 5. Mussmann (C) 1:19.34; 6. Edwards (C) 1:37.94.
500 freestyle — 1. Erling (C) 6:04.87; 2. Janelle Moore (W) 6:08.75; 3. Fox (W) 6:12.40; 5. Irene Griffin (C) 10:31.01.
200 freestyle relay — 1. West (Harland, Remley, Straetker, Ho) 1:51.13; 2. West 1:59.52; 3. Clinton (Nickles, Anderson, Marlowe, Erling) 1:59.54; 4. Clinton (Mussmann, Duray, Edwards, Genevieve Ehlers) 2:36.57.
100 backstroke — 1. Walters (W) 1:10.60; 2. Nickles (C) 1:16.20; 3. Walker (W) 1:19.22; 5. Griffin (C) 1:58.97.
100 breaststroke — 1. Ho (W) 1:11.61; 2. Paige Griffith (W) 1:22.06; 3. Arvanitis (W) 1:23.24; 4. Anderson (C) 1:33.87; 5. Duray (C) 1:41.96.
400 freestyle relay — 1. West (Remley, Straetker, Ho, Arvanitis) 4:03.30; 2. West 4:11.34; 3. Clinton (Erling, Nickles, Marlowe, Anderson) 4:31.70; 4. Clinton (Mussmann, Edwards, Griffin, Duray) 6:16.19.
DAVENPORT WEST 115, CLINTON 8
50 freestyle — 4. Genevieve Ehlers 39.23; 5. Tiffany Vesey 41.50; 6. Morganne Stansbarger 45.17. 100 freestyle — 4. Ehlers 1:31.17; 5. Vesey 1:39.30. 100 backstroke — Stansbarger 2:07.02.
More photos To see more photos from Tuesday's meets, check out the online photo gallery at Clintonherald.smugmug.com.