Whitecaps finish strong despite a season of change

Published 8:05 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2018


For the Daily News

A new summer swim season brought along several changes for the Washington Whitecaps. Not only did the Whitecaps switch their pool, they also found themselves under different guidance with a new coach. Despite the change in home and leadership, the Washington-based swim team still managed to be one of the top teams in its league.

This year the Whitecaps gained Kaitlyn Richards as their head coach in the Greenville Area Summer Swim League, which is for swimmers 18 and under. The current swim team coach for the Washington Pam Pack, this was Richards’ first year coaching a summer swim league. Instead of facing off against other high schools, Richards was coaching her swimmers against the likes of the Tarboro Swim Club, Greenville Country Club, Minges Makos and the other seven clubs that make up the league.

“(Richards) jumped right in and got us squared away (even though) she was not familiar with it at all,” Whitecaps’ parent representative Mary Lovenberg said.

Along with a new coach, the Whitecaps experienced other changes. Summer swim is typically held in an outdoor pool, but this year the Whitecaps switched from their usual outdoor pool to an indoor pool. This caused the number of swimmers on the team to decrease.

“Moving to a indoor pool definitely hurt the team a lot,” assistant coach A.J. Howard said. “We went from a constant 100-plus kids to around 40 or so.”

In previous years, Washington and Tarboro were the top squads of the league, continually fighting for first place between themselves. But a new contender emerged this season.

“Our biggest competitor is usually Tarboro, but this year, Greenville Country Club was the team to beat,” Richards said.

In the same time that Greenville Country Club became a new powerhouse, Washington fell behind. On June 26, when the Whitecaps and Greenville Country Club met in a dual meet, Washington earned a total of 565 points, which fell a little short of the 579 points earned by Greenville. Points are given to the top six swimmers in each individual race, with sixth place receiving the lowest and first receiving the highest. The top four relay teams in each race receive points as well.

“This year was like the previous few years. We are still growing to what we used to be,” Howard said.

As Greenville Country Club surfaced this season as the league’s toughest competitor, the Whitecaps found themselves sliding back a bit in the league standings. Washington defeated Aquaventure, Cherry Oaks and Greenville Recreation and Parks Department to end the regular season third overall with a 3-3 record, behind only Greenville Country Club and Tarboro Swim Club.

To end the season, the league competed in a championship meet. The championship was broken up into separate meets based on age.

“We split up our age groups into 10-and-under, and 11-and-up so that we have two championship meets instead of one,” Richards said. “We took 3rd place at championships out of 11 total teams.”

The championship meet for the 10-and-under group was held on July 21 in Tarboro, and the second meet was held on July 28 in Greenville. The top three swimmers in each race received a medal. Points from both of these meets were added up to decide the winners.

The Whitecaps combined to win 28 medals at the GASSL Championship meets, including eight first-place finishes. Tamra Tipton and A.J. Howard led the way for Washington, as they both took home four medals. The Whitecaps finished with 250 points, putting them behind only Greenville Country Club (485) and Tarboro (379.5).

Overall, this season was a success for Washington as it dealt with changes. Losing many swimmers was a setback, but with the help of a new coach, the Washington Whitecaps proved they were tough competitors.