SALAMANCA — The Salamanca girls swimming and diving team earned its first victory of the season last week, marking a step forward for a young team.
Coach Michala Redeye leads the Warriors this season, with assistant coach Laurie Lafferty-John, the former longtime head swimming coach.
Redeye took on the head coaching position over the summer when Melanie Ross could no longer do it. A former SHS swimmer herself, for six years under Lafferty-John in the 1990s, Redeye has coached with Lafferty-John as a Salamanca assistant and with USA swimming.
“I have coached under Laurie for many years on both teams and I have learned so much about the sport, being a coach, an educator, and a role model,” Redeye said. “Because she has taught me so much over the years as a swimmer and as a coach, when the positions came up last spring, I was excited about being a team again.”
Redeye said she has some experienced swimmers, but most of the team’s 19-student roster is young and new to the varsity level.
“We have a fairly young and new team,” she said. “We have some veteran swimmers, but there are many seventh, eighth and ninth grade girls. Some of them come from USA swim, but we do have a few new swimmers.
“They are all awesome and complement each other well. We have great leaders on the team, too, and they are already showing their love for the team and rebuilding the team.”
Senior Jordan Ray, whose events include the 200-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke, is the team’s captain.
“We have some other veteran swimmers, (senior) Kaihalla George and (junior) Jayla Rasha, that are leaders in many ways, too,” Redeye noted.
Myra Breazeale, Emma Brown, Alicia Fiske, Heather Ground, Becca Oakes and Jem Yarbour are the team’s sophomores.
Madison Brown is the team’s lone freshman while Emily Brown, Michaelynn Lecceardone and Camryn Quigley are all on the team from eighth grade. Lauren John, Emmalee Redeye, Jenny Rockwell, Danica Teeter, Mikaela Tennity and Kaya Yarbour make up the team’s seventh-grade class.
After a season away from the pool — Redeye stepped away from coaching or volunteering last year — the new coach sounds impressed with the young talented girls stepping into new roles on the varsity team.
“There were some girls I didn’t know,” Redeye said. “But wow! They are picking up the strokes quickly and the ones who come from USA (Swim) are continuing to grow at an amazing pace.”
Redeye said she wants each swimmer on the team to “grow in ways that they feel they want to and in ways that we know they can.” With a young team, the Warriors are balancing team goals with how to develop the individuals as swimmers.
“Swimming is a team and individual sport, so there is an amazing sense of team pride and personal pride in reaching goals,” she said. “Winning a meet is an awesome feeling, but we really win when our girls reach their goals. Whether it is by improving their times, improving their strokes or turns or starts, trying new events and then encouraging each other along the way. When you have a team that makes you feel good, awesome, and supports you every day, that positivity radiates from each one of them and is contagious! These girls are going to achieve success through their hard work, commitment, love for the sport and amazing personalities.”