The Clinton High School girls swim team is making the trip to Davenport Central this weekend for the regional swim meet. For many of the athletes on the youthful squad it will be their first postseason.
“Most of them are freshman and sophomores,” Coach Albert Hayton said. “But what’s nice is that a lot of these girls have either swam club or they’ve swam for the middle school.”
Hayton says a big part of the reason he has such a young team is the increased opportunity. Clinton High’s pool facility, River King and Queen Natatorium which was completed in 2012, is big enough for the middle school, breeding swimmers for the high school.
“By having this big facility we are able to have the middle school come in now and that’s helped us get some more girls out,” Hayton said. Hayton himself was a 1991 graduate of CHS and has been involved with the swim program for 14 years, seeing the changes that have taken place in the athletic facilities.
Clinton celebrated Senior Night just over a week ago and said goodbye to only two seniors. The majority of the varsity team is made up of underclassman.
Hayton said one of the biggest challenges the age presents is experience.
“Because they’re younger they don’t really get the full scale of everything you try to teach them,” Hayton said. “Eventually it comes around. Towards the end they say things like ‘next year we will do this’ and I remind them that we could have done it this year and then they realize that.
“When they get older I think they will understand that more and be able to take care of business so they aren’t second guessing themselves by the end.”
The lack of experience doesn’t come without a lack of talent or energy. The team has won three meets this season, which Hayton says is more than he remembers in the recent past.
“There is a lot of talent, it’s just trying to harness the talent and get them to perform where they need to,” Hayton said. “I need to figure out what really motivates them to get them to do the right things that are good for them.”
One of those young faces is freshman Molly Shannon. Shannon has some of the top times on the team in multiple events, and is on a couple of the strong relays for the Queens.
“It’s going to be a good next couple years, it’s going to be fun,” Shannon said. “We’re going to be fast.”
Shannon says one of the best things about the young team is their attitude. The energy from the River Queens is obvious when they are competing. She says the hard work everyone puts in makes it more of a family than anything else.
“We fight like family, we joke like family,” Shannon said. “We’re like a big band of sisters, and coach is our dad. When you work hard and suffer with all your friends it turns it into family.”
The team is coming off of a makeup dual meet against Davenport North, where the varsity more than doubled North’s total points. Coach Hayton says he’s excited to make the trip to Davenport Central and see what his young team can bring in postseason swimming.
“It’s a fast pool, it’s brand new,” Hayton said about North’s facility. “I think if they taper well and do the right stuff that they’ve put enough in the bank that maybe they’ll be able to make a good withdrawal at regionals.”
The diving competition is tonight at 5 p.m. at Davenport Central. Clinton has one diver, sophomore Allison Hasenmiller. The swimming portion of the competition begins at noon on Saturday in the Quad Cities.
Shannon isn’t sure what to expect at regionals, but she wants everyone to know that age doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the River Queens.
“We want to show them how young our team is, but also show them it doesn’t matter how young a team is, just kick butt.