Where it all counts

Published 12:01 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

0724 spt-Cali Fillmer

Stingrays start state meet tomorrow at Birmingham Crossplex

BJ Donaldson looked out over the bright blue-illuminated Cooper Pool Tuesday night and thought about the last 11 summers he spent swimming for the Andalusia Stingrays.

“I never thought this moment would get here,” Donaldson said. “It’s pretty surreal. This practice has really hit me. It’s like wow, I’m done after tonight.”
Donaldson, who is graduating and moving on to swim in the collegiate level at Darton State College in Albany, Ga., has one more chance over the next two days to finish out on top at the 2014 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association State Swim Meet in Birmingham’s Crossplex.

Donaldson is seeded third in the 100-yard individual medley (IM), 50-yard breaststroke and fourth in the 50-yard freestyle.

“We feel pretty confident,” Donaldson said. “We’ve put a lot of work into it and this is taper week. We’ve been backing off and we’ve looked really good technique wise. We have a lot of potential.”

Other than Donaldson, the other swimmers who are seeded in the top five are Alex Browning, who is seeded fifth in the 100-yard IM; Emma Younce is first in the 100-yard IM, 50-yard free and 100-yard free; Stuart Baker is seeded second in the 100-yard IM, fourth in the 50-yard breaststroke and third in the 50-yard backstroke; Mary Beth Baker is seeded fifth in the 100-yard IM, and second in the 50-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle; and Cali Fillmer is third in the 100-yard IM, first in the 50-yard butterfly and second in the 100-yard freestyle; Evie Younce is seeded fifth in the 50-yard backstroke; and Baylor Turman is the first seed in the 25-yard backstroke.

Stingrays advanced coach Gavin Donaldson said this is the first time in the program’s history that out of the 18 events for all of his six kids, 15 of those events are in the top five.

Warm ups last tomorrow morning from 7:45 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. with the meet start time slated for 10 a.m. This is the same for Saturday as well.

The IM, breaststroke, 25-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle and medley relay events will be held tomorrow with the butterfly, backstroke, 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and free relay events held on Saturday.

Five 8-and-under swimmers and one 9-and-10-year-old comprise the beginners group swimming at the state meet.

Stingrays coach Carrie Browning said the small bunch are pretty excited about going to Birmingham.

“They have a really good chance to finish with some fast times and hopefully get a ribbon,” Browning said.

Browning added that she hopes to see some times get cut during the meet.
Stingrays intermediate coach Andy Shaddix said his group couldn’t contain their eagerness for state to get here.

“The intermediate group has turned out to be a well-mixed group of experienced swimmers as well as new ones and our seed times kind of reflect that,” Shaddix said. “I have one swimmer that is placed 5th in one of her strokes and should finish even better than that.”

One of the regimens that’s helped the advanced group is when it’s used an IM-based practice, Gavin said.

“One of the things I’ve seen is that each stroke compliments each other in a different fashion,” the coach said. “The one thing about IM is that it works all muscle groups and not just specific groups pertinent to that stroke. The one thing I have seen out of this group is cutting the time intervals down and running half-kick and half-swim.

“Their bodies have really responded to that type of work out,” he said. “That’s what has correlated to these top seed times.”
Donaldson added that he feels pretty good about this week.

“I’ve told them you can’t be big-headed about this,” he said. “And it’s one thing to swim that time and get there, and it’s another to thing to make a statement with it.”

Thirty-two Stingrays will be swimming at the state meet in Birmingham.