Marlins crest wave of top 10 finishes
Swim team takes 22 top slots in state competition
Special to the Citizen
TIFTON – Morgan County Park and Recreation Department’s Director of Aquatics Andy Dunston remembers the first time the Morgan County Marlins participated in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) state swimming championships.
Three years ago, Dunston traveled to Tifton with one swimmer, who didn’t qualify for the finals.
On July 20-21, the Marlins sent 19 swimmers to the GRPA Class B/C State Swimming Championships at Baldwin Drive Pool in Tifton, where they combined to compile a whopping 22 Top-10 finishes in the statewide competition. The swimmers qualified for the state championships by finishing first or second in their respective events at a district meet at the Morgan County Aquatic Center in early July.
“I am extremely proud of our team,” said Dunston, who coaches the Marlins, along with Missy Mauldin and Chris Sides. “We have built a unique program, where swimmers push themselves to perform because they want to. We don’t stress competition and the importance of winning, but instead teach swimmers to perform at their highest levels to show themselves that they’ve improved. I’m amazed at how far we have come.”
Two Morgan County Marlins swimmers, Smith Cathey, 8, and Mary Claire Cardwell, 13, produced record-setting performances in the state championships.
Cathey, the daughter of Beth and Ryan Cathey, broke two state records in the 7- and 8-year-old girls age division on the opening day of the championships. She won the 25-yard breaststroke in 19.13 seconds and the 100-yard individual medley in 1 minute, 23.42 seconds. Cathey, who is about to begin the fourth grade at
Morgan County Elementary School, broke a four-year-old record in the 25-yard breaststroke and one-year-old mark in the 100-yard individual medley.
Cathey also teamed with Karalynn Clifton, Lauren Ellison and Riley Friesen to finish fourth in the girls 10-and-under 100-yard medley relay (1 minute, 11.81 seconds) and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 3.8 seconds).
“I was a little concerned that Smith wouldn’t be able to do it since there really wasn’t anyone for her to race,” Dunston said. “For her to swim her fastest, she needs someone right next to her to push her. After I saw her swim in prelims, even though she hadn’t broken the record at that point, I had little doubt that she would be able to do it in finals.”
Cardwell, the daughter of Kathryn and Joe Cardwell, broke a 16-year-old record in the 50-yard backstroke.
In the girls 13-14 age division. Cardwell, who is about to begin her freshman year at Morgan County High School, broke the state record in the preliminaries with a time of 29.19 seconds. A couple of hours later, Cardwell broke her state record again with a time of 28.97 seconds in the finals.
“Mary Caire was exciting to watch,” Dunston said. “She came out of the gates swinging and broke the record in prelims. In fact, she broke it again on the leadoff leg of the medley relay and then a third time during finals. What is really exciting about Mary Claire is that she has another year in the same age group to break her own record yet again.”
Cardwell also finished second in the 13-14 girls 50-yard freestyle with a time of 27.30 seconds. She also teamed with Keeli Windham, Grace Smith and Carolina Zant to finish second in the girls 14-and-under division in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2 minutes, 12.94 seconds. The same team finished fourth in the girls 14-and-under freestyle relay with a time of 2 minutes, 1.68 seconds.
Printed in the August 9, 2012