COLUMBIA — The Hickman and Rock Bridge girls swimming and diving teams started their Thursday practice with a "warmup" consisting of a combination of swims and pushups.
First, the swimmers went 100 meters followed by five pushups, then 200 meters followed by five pushups and so on, up to 500 meters. The pattern then continued in descending order back to 100 meters.
“Kelley, we have a 100 left,” coach Peter Willett shouted to Kelley Tackett, a freshman on the Rock Bridge team, as she swam to the end of the lane and turned around for her final set.
“As a freshman, I still have a lot more to learn about swimming, especially high school swimming,” Tackett said. “ I just want to help the team as much as I can.”
Tackett’s first season on the Rock Bridge team seems to be off to a great start. In the team’s season opener Saturday at Marquette High School, Tackett anchored three relays — the 900-yard freestyle progression relay, the 400-yard medley relay and the 300-yard butterfly relay in which her team finished second.
“She has a really fast anchor time which is very impressive for a freshman," Willett said.
In last week’s meet, the Rock Bridge freshmen swimmers proved they are ready to excel this season. Along with Tackett’s impressive showing, fellow freshman Katy Lydon produced a state-qualifying time in the 200-yard individual medley at the meet.
“One of the reasons why Katy qualified in the IM as a freshman in her first meet is because she doesn’t have a weak stroke,” Willett said. “She went out hard and raced and came home well."
Although these new Bruins are off to a great start, Tackett said she is still adjusting to the challenges of high school-level swimming.
“It’s kind of different and a lot more team-oriented,” said Tackett, a former club team swimmer.
Willett said he is excited about the new level of competition that this season’s freshmen are bringing to the team.
“A lot of our freshman swimmers are focused and bring a lot to the table,” Willett said. “It’s also very exciting from my point to see them race because they still race like kids, they still race without a care.”
Hickman and Rock Bridge will compete this Saturday at the Independence Invitational at the Henley Aquatic Center in Independence.