CLINTON — After graduating only two swimmers from the 2017 season, the Clinton River Queens knew they were returning a lot to the pool. They kicked off their 2018 campaign with a close meet against Tipton on Thursday at home and head coach Albert Hayton liked what he saw.

"I mean, we had a chance to win there for a moment," Hayton said. "We will see how it goes."

The River Queens has the lead for the first majority of the dual, with the Tigers pulling ahead and taking the varsity portion 91-82.

"I think it went really well. We had some times that were better than last year's times already," Hayton said. "We've got some girls that are right on last year's times and some that haven't even swam those events in a while."

The River Queens, who remain young, picked up a few victories in their first competition of the year in addition to lower times.

The team leader on Thursday night was Olivia Schroeder. Schroeder swam a 26.48 to take the 50 Yard Freestyle, and then touched the wall first in the 100 Yard Backstroke with a time of 1:10.47.

Clinton's third first place of the night came from lone diver Allison Hasenmiller, who scored 160.3 for her efforts in her home pool.

Kaedyn Schutte and Molly Shannon both has a pair of runner-up efforts. Schutte swam to a second place finish in the 100 Yard Freestyle with a 1:03.96 and finished second in the 200 Yard IM as well. Shannon swam the 500 Yard Freestyle in 6:35.86 and was runner-up in the100 Yard Breaststroke with a 44.04.

"We have some good girls who are always looking up at our board to see if they can get there," Hayton said.

Hayton is working with a roster of 20 athletes, which is the most he's had on his team in his time coaching the River Queens. Still, because of various circumstances, he was only utilizing 15 athletes in their opening contest.

"They're all doing their part," Hayton said. "We have some that are hurt, some that are sick right now and broken, so we only swam with 15 tonight. They did pretty good and we didn't fill all the events. We could have gotten a couple points here and there so it would have been closer."

Plus, he's seeing a lot of his underclassman step up.

"We have one senior who is one of our captains right now, but then we have some juniors and sophomores coming in well," Hayton said. "They're all doing their part. It's that crazy cliche that they're doing everything together."

Another exciting addition to this year's swim team is the new Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union stet qualifying process. There is now a state qualifying time standard, which can be met in the regular season. Hayton says the Queens are exciting with this because they swim in such a difficult region, matching up with teams like Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley and Muscatine.

"The qualifying is different this year. The time standards give them some other things to shoot for instead of worrying about being in the top 24," Hayton said. "That changes some of their minds and their goals for the season."

With the first meet under their belt, the River Queens travel to Pleasant Valley next week and then will return to River King and Queen Natatorium on Sep. 4 for a meet with Davenport West.