With winter sports right around the corner, athletes across the three local high schools are gearing up for their respective seasons. In addition to basketball and wrestling, Grantsville, Tooele and Stansbury are readying for the upcoming swimming season.
Grantsville head coach has big expectations for returning swimmers
After the girls team placed third — and the boys team sixth — in the final Region 13 meet of the 2021-22 season, swim coach Autumn Riding saw many positive signs from her athletes.
At the 3A state championships, Mary Armantrout placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle, as well as fourth in the 500-yard freestyle. Libby Whitham also placed in the state tournament, finishing 15th in the 100-yard butterfly event.
“I feel like our swim team has been performing better each year,” Riding said. “We have a lot of improvement in the pool as far as learning to work hard, being dedicated and encouraging teammates.”
This season sees the return of 12 swimmers from last year’s campaign, including the addition of eight new teammates.
“We are a very young team, so most of our time this year has gone to working on technique, skills and knowing how [competitions] work,” Riding said. “My focus is on helping them learn [how] to do hard things — we are, and will continue, to improve in our hard work and dedication.”
Riding concluded by noting that one hurdle is maintaining an adequate number of swimmers to ensure the team qualifies for as many events as they can. On the flip side, she wants to foster the growth of current players who are showing signs of improvement.
“We are taking each of our swimmers’ success as a win and focusing on them,” she said. “I am expecting big things from my older swimmers who have stepped up this year.”
Stansbury’s newcomer coach setting her sights on making team fundamentally sound
Following her tenure as Stansbury High’s assistant swim coach, Jessie Jeppson is working with her swimmers as their new head coach.
As the new coach, Jeppson says she wants to get back to basics with her team to build a relationship with not just herself, but the other teammates as well. In her opinion, last season lacked the team spirit and motivation that she expects from a competitive group.
“So I’ve upped the expectations,” Jeppson said. “We’re working on our team camaraderie and also working on communication.”
In response to a less-than-stellar season, which was highlighted by three swimmers going to the state tournament, the mentality is to start from the bottom to build a strong foundation that will one day enable the team to consistently succeed.
“My captains came up with a theme for the year, ‘love to swim’ and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “We make sure that we meet after every practice and try to (be motivated) together.”
This year’s team will be full of younger swimmers and Jeppson said she and the team have placed individual goals ahead of goals to win at the state level. Instead of year-long expectations, Jeppson would rather her athletes focus on hitting milestones on a more short-term basis.
“I have their (performance) times from last year and we’re going to work on these goals,” she said. “I asked them, ‘Where do you want to be in December?’ and we’ll look at those goals again… and see if we need to reevaluate.”
Ultimately, Jeppson said that she will be working with a group of dedicated athletes.
“I have to say, my kids are great,” Jeppson said. “They’ve done really well and I love working with them.”
Next week the Transcript Bulletin will run a season preview for Stansbury’s 2022-23 swim team in the sports section.