CLINTON – Clinton High School boys swimming coach Albert Hayton did not appear overly concerned with the lopsided scoreboard in favor of Davenport Central Thursday night.
Rather, Hayton chose to focus on the team's general improvement since hosting a "Preview Night" in November, which allowed swimmers to set a benchmark time in their respective events prior to regular season action.
Just over a month into a season, Hayton is encouraged with the drop in times while acknowledging the youth of the roster.
"Most of them have already eclipsed their times from Preview Night and some of them are just doing great things and dropping a lot of time already," Hayton said. "We have a lot of new guys who have never swam before... within a month, they are figuring it out."
In addition to inexperience, the River Kings also do not have a lot of depth – a trend that has plagued many teams in the Mississippi Athletic Conference, including Davenport North, who sent just one participant to the meet.
"We struggle with [roster] numbers and some of the other sports here have been down here, too," Hayton said. "We are kind of all getting hit with it... there are a lot of schools hurting."
Davenport Central swept all varsity meets that had at least two competitors, but a pair of junior varsity members caught the attention of their coach.
Clinton freshman Paul Duray ousted Davenport Central's Charles Chenus in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 29.47. Parker Sirna finished behind teammate Sherlock O'Neill (1:08.41) with a 1:19.57.
"Duray has already dropped nine seconds from the first time we timed him so that just shows how much he has gained in confidence and his ability," Hayton said.
"Sirna did a great job tonight from what he started with after never swimming before so he is doing a great job, too."
Thursday night marked just the third event of the season for Clinton, leaving the majority of the season in front of the team. Hayton says his group has been fully engaged in morning and afternoon practice sessions, where the main priority revolves around fundamentals.
"It takes a special person to want to be here in the morning during the winter time, in the afternoon and the occasional Saturday," Hayton said. "We are always working on from and technique... it doesn't matter how fast you can get to the other end. If you can smooth out your stroke and other simple things, you can become a lot faster."
Other notable River King performances included Aidan Smith's pair of second place finishes in the 100-yard varsity freestyle (1:01.77) and 200-yard individual medley (2:30.59).
Clinton's four-man 200-yard freestyle relay team (Tanner Raaymakers, Noah Smith, Aidan Smith, Payton Raaymakers) finished second with a 1:50.77, which trailed Davenport Central's time by four seconds.
The River Kings return to the pool with a trip to MAC foe Burlington Thursday.