The Louisa Lions’ swim and dive teams are getting ready to make a splash for the 2019-20 season.
“We’re working really hard to put swimming on the map in this county,” said junior Josh Cutright, who is getting ready for his third varsity season.
Though their total numbers are down from last year, the Lions do boast quite a bit of returning talent with 14 swimmers coming back.
“We’re really excited,” said coach Debra Bickley. “The returning swimmers are experienced and know the routine and the new ones coming on have all [swum competively before], so we’re excited about some of our freshmen, too.”
The majority of the returning swimmers are sophomores who are entering their second varsity season with the Lions. Lauren Dessent, Dyllan Hartman and Alison Soriano all made noise for the team last season. Sophomores Preston George, Kaitlyn Goldschmidt and Brynn Straley are also returning for the Lions.
Juniors Hailey Conner, Abigail Pierce and Samantha Pritchette join Cutright in returning for a third season, and the team is not wanting for senior leadership, as senior swimmers Cody Henry, Alexander Menton and Chet VanBenschoten prepare for their final season with the Lions.
Senior diver Michael Menton, who won the Class 4 state championship in the event in 2018, is recovering from an injury, but Bickley hopes he will be able to return for another season. She is also hoping to recruit some other members of the team to join him on the diving board.
The most notable absence from the team is that of Alexa Owen. The four-time state championship qualifier was a force to be reckoned with both in individual events and as a part of one of Louisa’s relay teams.
“She was very significant in our relays,” Bickley said. “We have good relays, but she made it a really good relay.”
In addition to the returning swimmers, the Lions also boast a large crop of new faces this season. Amelia Bingler, Elijah Craig, Ashton Lonce, Coleman Owen, Elanor Pekary, Nathan Snyder and Seth VanBenschoten all have experience in the pool, but will be swimming at the varsity level for the first time.
One of the main goals the team has for the year is to break some of the long-standing Louisa County High School swimming records.
“I hope everyone breaks a few records this season,” said Hartman, who hopes to set records in the 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle races this season. “We have records [here] that haven’t been broken in forever. This year, I think we can do it.”
The Lions traveled to the Goochland YMCA on Dec. 6 for their first meet, taking on the Powhatan Indians. Read about the results in an upcoming issue of the CV.