The Cheney High girls swimming team is coming one of their strongest seasons in years.
The team finished 2014 with an overall 10th place finish at the 2A state swimming championships.
With 2014 behind them and having lost five seniors to graduation — and no seniors this season — the team is in a rebuilding period.
“Last year we lost a huge chunk of people,” head coach Jennifer Hochwalt said. “It (2015) will be a great year for us individually, but we’ll also have a solid core group to build on for next year.”
Makenzie Norman and Alexis Schmidt return for their sophomore season.
Norman became the first Cheney swimmer to win a 2A state title after she took first in the 100-yard freestyle event in 53.31 seconds. She also took fourth in the 50 freestyle at state and set a new school record of 1:52 in the 100 backstroke record in the first meet of the 2014 season.
Schmidt took seventh in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 200 individual medley at state.
Another junior returning to the team is Melissa Johnson, who competed on the 200 freestyle relay team that finished 24th at state.
“Norman and Schmidt were great leaders as underclassmen, they helped the team understand what the sport is about,” Hochwalt said. “This year they are taking more of a concrete leadership role, and I expect all three juniors will do a good job.”
Joining Norman, Johnson and Schmidt are returning sophomores Tiana Groff, Am’mi Hanna, Evarosa Perry, Larissa Schwendiman and Lucy Boston, all of whom had some experience in the varsity level last year, return to the pool. Zarah Meyer and Barbara Straiger, sophomores are two new faces to the roster.
“The new swimmers are ahead of training,” Hochwalt said. “They’re learning at a faster pace than the new swimmers who came on board last year. As a team we’re starting where we left off from last year, rather than starting all over.”
While the newer swimmers learned about stroke techniques whike the more experienced athletes jumped right into conditioning and speed.
Hochwalt added that some swimmers competed on clubs over the summer.
Cheney begins their season Sept. 11 at Richland in the Twilight Jamboree. Hochwalt will spend the next couple of weeks and the jamboree evaluating everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to put together “the best lineup” for future meets.
As far as the goals are concerned, Hochwalt said she would like to have as many swimmers qualify for state and districts.
“Most of all I am looking forward to watching them race,” Hochwalt said.