COLUMBIA — The Hickman and Rock Bridge girls swimmers performed well Saturday competing against five schools from around Missouri at the COMO Invitational at Hickman. The Bruins and Kewpies posted a combined 16 state qualifying times against strong competition from as far as Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.
Rock Bridge’s Megan Chittum, Kate Hunt, Corey Murphy and Tanya Miceli and Hickman’s Nathalia Mello each posted two state qualifying times. The relay teams proved just as effective with three Rock Bridge teams and one Hickman team posting qualifying times. Katherine Caldwell and Allison Boyle of Rock Bridge were also impressive in the 100-yard breastroke.
“I think I did really well today,” Caldwell said. “I was pretty close to my best time, which is really good at this point in the season.”
John Hamilton, who coaches both schools, said he was pleased with the results. However, he added there is still a great deal of work to be done before the girls reach top form.
“I think that they swam very solidly,” he said. “I asked them not to be focused on times, which swimmers tend to do. I’m trying to get them to focus on being competitive, being ready to race and getting their head and their emotions in sync with what their bodies can do.”
Hickman’s Helen Lin posted no qualifying times, yet she significantly contributed to her team’s fifth-place finish by competing in five of the meet’s 12 events. Hamilton, who said he wants to build a group that puts the team’s interests before their own, was particularly enthused about Lin’s performance.
“I’m just trying to build a camaraderie that is supporting the team,” he said, “and we’re working on that aspect here in the early season.”
Nathalia Mello echoed her coach, discussing her achievements from the team’s perspective.
“We’ve been training really hard all week, so we’re tired,” she said. “But for the amount that we’ve done, the results that we all showed today were really good.”
Although the number of schools competing was down to seven this year from 10 last year, Hamilton said the event was still an integral part of the team’s preparation.
“What works so well for us here at this pool is that we have very few meets in Columbia because of the constant travel, so the fact that we are able to swim here is something new and unique for us,” he said.
Hamilton said he sees the Christmas break as a perfect time for further improvement.
“We’re going to hit them hard over the vacation,” he said, “and then the first half of January we’ll hit them really hard.”
Daniel Staudinger contributed to this report