Hickman, Rock Bridge swimmers fall short at last chance meet

Saturday, February 12, 2011 | 7:45 p.m. CST; updated 8:55 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 12, 2011
Rock Bridge High School's Maggie Washer swims in the second heat of the girls 100-yard freestyle on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 at Hickman Pool. Washer finished second in her heat at 58.25 seconds.

COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge sophomore Annie Rumpf,  sophomore Maggie Washer and freshmen Ashley Shahan and Kortney Betz, are swimmers on the Rock Bridge 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.

All four girls swim together on both relays and are a very close-knit group. 

"We’re like our own little family," Rumpf said. "We room together at swim meets; we swim at practice together. We spend pretty much our whole life together because we spend so much time swimming."

The girls came into Saturday's Last Chance Swim Meet at Hickman High School two seconds short of qualifying for the state championships in the 200 and four seconds short in the 400. 

When the meet was over, the girls found themselves not headed to the state championships in either relay event. None of their teammates qualified on Saturday either. The same was true for Hickman.

Several girls on both teams, however, including Betz and the Hickman 400-yard freestyle relay team, will be headed to the state championships next weekend after qualifying in events at other meets during the season.

"Obviously it was disappointing, but we’ve had a lot of setbacks this season, and I’m just proud of us for doing as well as we did and getting as far as we did,” Betz said.

One major setback for the Rock Bridge and Hickman swim teams this season was  limited practice time because of snow in January and February. The teams, which practice together, had some practices moved to the MU Aquatic Center and many more canceled during the last month of the season.

“We’ve had a lot of interruptions with our practices, so I tried to tell the girls that they swam well despite the interruptions,” Hickman and Rock Bridge coach John Hamilton said.

Betz and Rumpf said the team usually has a "tear-down" period during the season where they swim a lot, so later on in the season it feels easier to swim shorter distances.

“We didn’t really have that period this year,” Rumpf said.

Hickman will lose two seniors at the season's end, but the rest of both teams could return if Columbia Public Schools continues to sponsor swimming next season. Superintendent Chris Belcher mentioned cutting the swim programs when he proposed a set of budget reductions to the School Board's finance committee Monday.

If it gets the chance to swim again, the Rock Bridge relay team can't wait for another opportunity to qualify for the state championships.

“Next year we’re getting that cut," Betz said.

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