Stingrays make history with third straight district title

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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For the first time in Andalusia history, the city’s Stingrays swim team has completed a three-peat with their third straight district title win Saturday, July 8.

Head Coach Darren Forry credited those in the community for helping the team reach this historic milestone.

“This is all due to the community support and work the kids, parents, and everyone involved gives to our program. There’s no other program like it. I’ll leave saying only two other words for those that wind up reading this, ‘Build it,” Forry said.

Assistant Coach Candice Vinson felt the same way as Forry.

“These kids have earned this victory giving up their Saturdays and countless hours to practice due to the severe rain and weather issues this year. We compete against teams that don’t have that problem with indoor facilities. The time to build it is now,” Vinson said.

Forry and Vinson’s ‘build it’ comments reference the desire and need program members as well as others feel would be an asset to the local area: an aquatic center.

Assistant Coach Josh Hudson paid homage to everyone involved.

“This group of parents and swimmers has stuck with it through thick and thin. There were numerous team records broken and the most points scored ever at a district meet. They have represented our city the right way and all that’s left. Go Rays,” Hudson said.

Assistant Coach Andy Shaddix, who announced 2023 as his last year of coaching with the program, spoke highly of the Stingrays.

“We had several swimmers win their individual events, place top four, qualifying for state, and even set team records this year. We have never had a run like this in my time with the program, and to go out this way is my way of riding off into the sunset,” Shaddix said.

Junior coaches and swimmers are Eliana Forry, Nicholas Appleyard, Tyler Levitzke, Briley Henry and Jamie Geohagan. They have put countless hours into coaching and training. They all similarly can remember before this streak the years and work it took getting closer and closer to that first district victory.

“It feels good to be where we are,” Eliana said. “Looking back and not just hearing about it but going through those years of coming up short to Dothan, it really just hits different. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of what’s happening today.”

Andalusia does not expect to age out any of their swimmers this year. All swimmers on the team will have additional eligibility to come back in 2024 and defend the district for a run at four titles.

With their third district win in a row, the Andalusia Stingrays will travel to Birmingham on July 21- 22 for the state swim meet at Birmingham Crossplex.