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February 6, 2014

Through adversity, girls swimmers formed tight bond

DUNCAN — When The Simmons Center swimming pool was closed, it made things rough for the Duncan girls swim team.

As senior Savanna Swar described it, “We were really hoping to go out and take every race at state. Then, when the pool closed, we panicked.”

But Swar and five others stuck it out, have grown closer as a team and posted quality times. Junior Leah Kafer said many of the teams Duncan has faced were surprised to learn they hadn’t practiced that much in a laned pool.

“We’d tell them that we didn’t have a pool, and they thought, ‘Wow, you’ve done really well,’” she said.

Swar, Kafer, junior Hannah Looney, sophomore Tabitha Butcher, and freshmen Alex Turkett and Elisa Mitcham have remained committed to the swim team. Coach Andrew Bowers said their improvement shows how strong their work ethic is.

“They have the drive to work to be better and to improve, and their times have certainly shown that,” he said.

There was a brief period when the swimmers used the pool at Quality Inn-Duncan for practices. The girls swimmers believe that was beneficial.

“In a way, that small pool probably did help us out, because our times got faster,” Butcher said.

Kafer added, “It really made us dig harder because, when were working out, we wanted to drop our times. Considering what we’ve done, it’s really impressive.”

Because the pool at Simmons was closed for a brief period, most of Duncan’s home meets became road meets. Looney admitted that was tough, because it meant fewer chances for Demon fans to watch the swimmers.

Still, the Demons have taken it in stride and became a close-knit group.

“As close as we were before, we were definitely closer this year,” Butcher said. “Throughout the day, we were always looking forward to coming (to practice) just so we could be together.”

Bowers has noticed the improved camraderie.

“At the beginning of the year, they weren’t as close as a team,” he said. “But now they are working very well together. They are competing for each other, instead of with each other.”

With the bulk of this year’s group returning next year, Bowers expects an even stronger showing next season.

“Girls swimming in Duncan is really looking up,” he said, “and this group has done a good job building a foundation we can work on.”

Turkett admitted the swimmers could have posted even better times if they always had the laned pool for practices. But the swimmers have no regrets and aim to do their best at the regional meet this weekend.

“When we go, we’ll expect to compete,” Bowers said. “Obviously, our goal is to qualify for state. That is the ultimate goal.”

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