The Hardy County Stingrays splashed into the summer with 21 top-three finishes in the season opening freestyle swim meet at the Cumberland YMCA on Friday night.
Cumberland Sea Otters hosted the swim meet with the Stingrays joining Garrett County Manta Rays and the Bel Air Swim Club.
In their first season as the Stingrays head coaches, Hampshire High School graduates and Potomac State College enrollees Andrew Lupton and Abraham Toothman guided the team with enthusiastic support throughout the meet.
“We thought swimming was all over when we graduated, but this gives us a chance to do what we love. Although we would rather be actually swimming in the meet. It’s definitely really exciting, it’s awesome. I’m really glad I got the chance and opportunity to do this,” Hardy County Stingrays co-coach Abraham Toothman remarked.
“It’s hard to find the balance between coaching kids that have more experience than you do, but it’s definitely a good experience. It was a good, solid meet.”
Lupton and Toothman have experience from competing at the WVSSAC state swimming tournament and have a passion for the sport which continues to grow through teaching youth swim lessons in Hardy County and keeping the Stingrays thriving in the summer.
“I feel really good about it. I like the fact that they called us swimmers to do this. I’m glad we have this meet under our belt. We had solid times and now we can work on times. We have a lot of good goals to be made. We know what we need to work on,” Hardy County Stingrays co-coach Andrew Lupton stated.
All the swim teams in Cumberland huddled in the gymnasium, then each squad was given a warm-up session prior to the swim meet.
Members of the Hardy County Stingrays competing in Cumberland were (ages 7-15): Chloe Champ (7), Weston Eye (7), Geoffrey Williams (7), Elizabeth Williams (9), Caroline Auville (9), Kara Barb (10), Marcus Cremann (10), Amelia Gagnon (11), Kyle Molen (11), Caimy Williams (11), Emma Cremann (12), Trevor Johnston (12), Chloe Weikle (12), Alivia Williams (13) and Tori Humphries (15).
The oldest swimmer on the Stingrays is 16-year old Lindsey Rinker, who had a prior basketball commitment during the first swim meet.
The first event for the Stingrays was a 200-yard freestyle relay mixed age group of 9-12 years old featuring Elizabeth Williams, Emma Cremann, Trevor Johnston and Chloe Weikle finishing in second place with a time of 2:40.06.
Swimmers lined up on a bench along the wall before each event, then moved to the starting lines when called upon with some using the diving boards as others elected to jump into the pool lanes.
Decor on the walls was quite spectacular with fish of different varieties, sizes and colors, then there were banner flags in blue and black stretching across the pool.
In the girls 7-8 year old 25-yard freestyle B flight, Hardy County’s Chloe Champ took 10th place in a time of 45.64.
Hardy County had two top-five finishes in the 9-10 girls 25-yard freestyle B flight as Caroline Auville earned second place with a time of 21.10 and Kara Barb was in fifth place at 23.08 which was over two seconds faster than her last race the previous season.
In the boys 7-8 25-yard freestyle B flight, Weston Eye notched third place for the Stingrays in 28.31 and Geoffrey Williams took fourth place at 54.59.
Continuing in the 25-yard freestyle B flight for the 9-10 year old boys, Hardy County’s Marcus Cremann reached for the edge of the pool for second place in a time of 19.81 which was six seconds better than his seed time showing a huge smile after the finish.
Elizabeth Williams earned a second place medal for the Stingrays in the 9-10 girls 50-yard freestyle A flight race with a time of 43.42 which was faster than the seed time by 4.56 seconds.
Hardy County’s Caimy Williams made a gold medal time of 32.38 in the 11-12 girls 50-yard freestyle A flight.