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The Shelby Sharks are off to a hot start in the winter short-course season.
The team already has one swimmer qualified for the Southern Sectional. Amanda Skinner hit the qualifying mark for the 200-meter breaststroke at the Excel Meet of Champions in Brentwood, Tenn., this past weekend.
Sharks Coach Jeremiah Heath also thinks his team can have more swimmers qualify for meet.
“The progress of the team so far this season has been huge,” Heath said. “They’re training hard and really focused in on becoming better athletes and swimmers. The goal is to get a sectional team together, and I think we’re getting close. We have a relay team that’s just about a second-and-a-half off of qualifying.”
The 400-medley team doesn’t actually have to swim together to qualify. The team can make the needed time with a combination of four individual swims that add up to the qualifying time. As of now, Heath said the team would be comprised of Emily Walsh in the backstroke, Skinner in the breaststroke, Kallie Anderson in the butterfly and Addison Barlow in the free.
“I think they have a really good shot, but the team members on the relay could also change, it’s an open competition,” Heath said. “I really like the way Kallie is swimming. She’s one of the fastest 50 and 100 free swimmers in the state right now, and she’s just 14. She has a shot to make the sectional meet on her own as well.”
The Excel Meet was a snapshot of how much the Sharks have improved this season.
Out of 111 individual swims, the Sharks hit best times in 63 of those, 57 percent.
“That’s a big accomplishment, especially in the middle of the season like this,” Heath said. “I think it shows how far this team has come.”
Heath noted a few very strong efforts are putting some swimmers in new territory.
Skinner qualifying for the sectional meet is a first, and she also bettered her top time in the 200 individual medley by 4 seconds. Lindsey Anderson also set a new personal best in the 200 IM, finishing in 12th place more than 3 seconds faster than she had ever finished.
C.J. Skinner, Amanda’s brother, turned in one of his best meets. He qualified for the state meet for the first time, hitting his mark in the 100 and 500 free.
So far through the short-course season, the Sharks have already broken 10 team records – four by Emma Skinner, two by Barlow, and four by John Hoskins – and that’s added to the four records Sam Ruble broke during the summer season.
“We’re just really looking forward to the next two months of training,” Heath said. “The team is so much more focused, and they’re starting to believe in themselves which is key. I think we’re ready to explode onto the scene at the state meet and on the national scene at the sectional meet.”
The Sharks will be back in action this weekend at the Christmas Classic meet at the University of Louisville.
After that meet, the Sharks will begin training with a focus on the state and national meets. The team’s next meet will be Feb. 1 at the Triton Super Sprint in Louisville.