Prep swimming: Kearns not intimidated heading into region, state meets
The Kearns swimming team had a respectable showing last year, with the boys and girls teams each finishing second in the region and earning eighth- and fifth-place finishes at state, respectively.
Most of that team returned this year, and the experience is paying off. Coach Chris Horne said his swimmers have put in the work, and their results have reflected it.
"We have won our first 14 duals, and we have finished second in most of the bigger meets," Horne said. "The work ethic of our swimmers has been the key to our success."
The Cougars are hoping to ride their success to a region title. After finishing second to Bingham in two straight years, Kearns would love nothing more than to dethrone the Miners.
To do that, Horne said the team captains need to continue to perform well. On the girls' side, senior Melissa Bergesen has a top-20 time in every distance and stroke.
Seniors Sam Huff and Kevin Anderson have both been solid on the boys' side, and they are confident in what they can do for the rest of the season.
"This is the best team we have had in years, definitely the best since I've been swimming," Huff said. "We are all such close friends that we know there is always someone behind us in that pool."
Huff has been one of the state's top swimmers so far this season. He currently has the state's best time in the 50-meter freestyle at 21.33 seconds. That is 0.56 seconds better than any other swimmer. He also has a top-20 time in every other distance and stroke. Huff said his biggest individual goal is to claim the state record in the 50-meter freestyle.
Anderson has been impressive as well. He has a top-50 finish in most strokes. Anderson emphasized the importance of team closeness. He also said the team will be at the top of its game when the region and state meets arrive.
"I know for me, I will be able to drop some time before then," Anderson said. "As a team, I know when we get there, everyone will be at their best."
Horne said the Cougars hope to improve upon last year's finish, and he said it is a possibility.
"We want to win region and place in the top five at state," Horne said. "To do that, we need to qualify as many swimmers as we can at region and state. On paper, that is something we can do."
The region meet is on Feb. 1 and state is Feb. 10-11 at BYU. Huff and Anderson said being ready physically is crucial, but the team's attitude is more important.
"We have to be mentally prepared and we cannot be intimidated, no matter who it is we are swimming against," Huff said.
"If we go in with no fear, we will be able to do well," Anderson said. "We have to know we will perform well, we have to have the swag."
The Cougars have won their first 14 dual meets.
Senior Sam Huff has this year's top 50-meter freestyle time. His time of 21.33 seconds is more than a half-second better than any other swimmer in the state.
Huff has a top-20 finish in every boys distance and stroke. Melissa Bergesen has a top-20 time in every women's distance and stroke.