The Marion boys and girls swimming teams will participate in the North Central Conference swim meet at Purdue University on Saturday, January 9.
The Purdue pool is located at the Francis Cordova Recreational Center. The pool entrance is on the north side of the facility just off of Stadium Drive. General admission is $6.00. Spectators should enter through the main north door and proceed upstairs to the gallery area. Parents are not allowed on the deck nor in the locker rooms.
Hopes are high for the Marion swimmers as they come off of Christmas break and prepare for the NCC meet.
Special thanks to the Chronicle-Tribune’s Chuck Landis for writing this story.
First-year coach Robert Burchell shares something in common with his Marion boys’ and girls’ swimmers: both are learning on the job.
Just four years earlier, Burchell was a swimmer for the Giants himself, and the recent Indiana Wesleyan University graduate admits to a rudimentary knowledge of coaching. Most of the swimmers are new to the sport and came out primarily to condition for other sports. The Giants have just three seniors in the program and both teams are sophomore laden.
”It’s really a new experience for me being a coach,” Burchell said. “I’ve had six years experience as a swimmer, and I am grateful for (assistant) Mike Bournique and others to help me with the administrative side.
”I can lead callisthenics or teach different strokes, but it helps I have assistants who have run meets and dealt with parents,” he added. “Coaching has been more than I expected, but I’m excited to see where the team is heading the rest of the season.”
The number of swimmers are increasing and Burchell said 21 boys and 15 girls are on the teams. Three years ago, the number of boys’ participants were in the single digits, and the girls had plateaued at around a dozen. Burchell said eight boys and four girls are swimming competitively for the first time this season.
Former coach Willie Tucker worked at increasing the numbers, and fall and spring season coaches encouraged their athletes to swim. Burchell teaches at the high school and said that gives him the opportunity to recruit students directly.
”(Swimming) is a great sport if you are a soccer player or in cross country,” Burchell said. “I see it trending where athletes see swimming as a break and recuperation from soccer, and aerobic exercise and a way to increase lung capacity for cross country.”
Marion’s two best swimmers are standouts in other sports: Kaylan Williams is an all-state girls’ soccer player and Jalen Springer is the No. 1 runner for the boys’ cross country team. Williams swims the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and breaststroke, and Springer’s specialties are the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle.
”Kaylan is an extremely good athlete and we are fortunate to have here,” Burchell said. “Jalen had a great cross country season and it’s spurred him to do well in swimming. He’s been a good team leader and extremely helpful to the assistant coaches and myself.”
Springer had two individual firsts and was part of two winning relays in the boys’ only dual meet victory over Elwood. The boys are off to a 1-3 start, and the girls have swam in one more dual meet and are 1-4 having also beaten Elwood.
Burchell said several of the first-time swimmers are making good progress like sophomores Noah McBee and Sophia Kitts. McBee is a baseball player and was on the wrestling team last year, and Kitts played for the girls’ soccer team.
”McBee’s an extremely good athlete and has perfect attendence at practice,” Burchell said. “He’s gone from someone who was afraid to get in the pool and and couldn’t breathe right in the water to one of our fastest swimmers.”
Elizabeth Wuertley is recognized for her tennis abilities, but the sophomore also has become the best girls’ distance swimmer. Katie Erickson is another cross country and track runner who contributes for the girls’ swim team in the 100 freestyle.
Other standouts for the boys’ team are Jacoby Drayton in the breaststroke and Tyler Morgan in the backstroke.
Marion returns from the holiday break with a Jan. 7 meet at Oak Hill and then swims just two days later in the North Central Conference meet at Purdue University.
”The nice thing going into the winter break was we had a lot of PRs (personal bests) but now we have the chance to work with them on different things,” Burchell said. “Oak Hill has a lot of great swimmers and I couldn’t ask for a better meet to start out the second half. It will challenge us and we will see where we are at.”