Ocean City Today
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Decatur swim teams well-rounded

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Dec 07, 2017
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli Coaches Mary Hathaway and Steve Deakyne said both the girls’ and boys’ Stephen Decatur swim teams are well-rounded this year and are deep with talent.

(Dec. 8, 2017) Seven boys and eight girls represented the Stephen Decatur swim program during the 3A/2A/1A state championship meet last year.

Only two of those athletes were seniors. The 13 others were underclassmen and have returned to the pool this season.

The Lady Seahawks finished with a 7-3 record last year and came in third place in the 3A/2A/1A East Regional meet. All eight of the swimmers who qualified for the state meet last year are back to compete.

Leading the squad will be senior captains Lily Rakow and Jamie Ditzel.

“Lily was a captain last year. We’re definitely going to lean on her for leadership,” Decatur girls’ Coach Mary Hathaway said. “Jamie is an incredible leader. They’re both going to be great leaders. They also make it a lot of fun.”

Both girls have been members of the team since they were freshmen.

“We’ve had a few different coaches, so I think we’ve kind of seen it all in terms of the different styles that everyone has. With that said, I feel like we both bring an aspect of, yeah we want to win, but we want to have fun too,” Ditzel said. “I think we bring a good balance of hard work and fun to the team, which was really important to me as a captain because I had really good captains my freshman year.”

“Just like Jamie said, We’ve kind of seen it all, we know how the team should be run and we know what it takes to be a good leader with this group,” Rakow added. “I think overall we can get faster as a team and become more of a united group. We’re all really close, but I think throughout the season we’ll get closer and just have more fun together.”

Ditzel plans to compete in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle this season.

“I think my goal is just to leave my senior year knowing that I’ve done my absolute best, but with that said, I still want to have fun and enjoy it,” Ditzel said. “It’s super weird looking up to the seniors your whole high school career and we’re finally the seniors. I just want make sure we set a good example.

“I think we all really want to win, so I’m confident the girls are going to pull together and work our hardest to have a good season,” she added.

Rakow said she will compete in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.

“Personally, I just want to improve my times overall and just have a really good senior season and make a lot of memories,” Rakow said. “A lot of the kids are year-round swimmers so they’ve just really excelled because they’ve been training. The kids who have just come back from other sports or maybe they haven’t been training, they’re still doing well. It’s going to be a good season.”

Also returning is senior Fallon Brown, who finished third in the state in the 100-yard butterfly last year, as well as junior Kirsten Graham (backstroke, 200 IM) and sophomore Mikayla Denault (200 IM, breaststroke).

Brown was the team’s top scorer last year, followed by Graham, Hathaway said.

Hathaway said freshmen newcomers Taylor Barrett and Alexis Rakow will be “awesome addition to the girls’ team.”

Twenty-one girls are participating this season. Fifteen of them are veterans, while six are new to the squad.

“I think we have a well-rounded squad. We are a diverse team. I think we’ll be good across the board,” Hathaway said. “We had very few kids come out for the team that have never swam before. The majority of them have been swimming most of their lives. Even our ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams will be really good.”

Hathaway, now in her third year as the girls’ team’s coach, said the freshmen that have joined the squad are talented swimmers.

“They’ve been swimming for Ocean Pines Swim Team and other club teams. I think they’re going to add a lot of strength to the team,” she said.

Hathaway said she would like the team to boost its standing in the region this season.

“We finished third [at regionals] and I think we can do better. I would like to see us in the top or second spot,” Hathaway said. “The girls finished seventh in the state last year. I would like hold that if not improve upon it … we’ve been pushing them pretty hard. I’m excited for the season. They look really good.”

Nineteen boys are participating this year. Twelve of them competed last season when the team went 7-3. The boys’ squad finished second overall in the 3A/2A/1A East Regional meet and 23rd at states.

Five of the seven boys who qualified for the state championship last year are back and a number of skilled swimmers have joined the team.

“I see us being very well-rounded this year,” said Coach Steve Deakyne, now in his fourth season leading the boys’ team. “We have some seniors who are going to be good leaders and are strong swimmers. We have a bunch of new freshmen that are really competitive.”

With a well-balanced group, Deakyne said he expects many swimmers to score points.

“A lot of people are going to be contributing, not just four or five that are getting us the majority of the points,” he said. “It’s going to be a full team effort. I think we have a lot of depth. Overall, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Leading the team will be senior captains Kevin Williams and Hayden Zaiser.

“Kevin’s definitely our vocal leader. He keeps everyone on track at practice and is always very motivating on the deck during meets,” Deakyne said. “Hayden is doing well so far. When it’s time to get started, hopefully he’s the first one down the lane and leads by example.”

Williams, a member of the team for four years, plans to race in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 IM events. He wants to make an appearance at regionals and states again.

“This will be my fourth year making it to states and regionals, so I’m hoping I can do it again,” he said. “I just want a good season … We got second place at regionals last year and I think we can get first place this year and place really well at states too.”

Williams said he would like to help bring the team together and get closer to the new additions. Sportsmanship is also very important.

“I’m hoping to get good sportsmanship out of these guys and I want to really get to know a lot more of them because some of them I don’t know,” he said. “Everything’s looking good. I’m looking forward to seeing how the freshmen progress.”

This is Zaiser’s third season on the Decatur swim team. He will compete in the 50-yard freestyle and some relay events. His goal is to break 24 seconds in the 50 freestyle and advance to states for the second year.

The co-captain said he wants to encourage his teammates to do their best.

“I’m going to try and push them to their limits every practice. The goal is to push them as far as they can go,” he said. “I think we’re going to do very well. We’ve got some freshmen who are really strong and they’re definitely going to be competitive against other schools.”

Deakyne will count on junior veterans Chase Deickman (50, 100 freestyle) and Wyatt Sperry (distance events) to contribute in additional to newcomers, senior Ryan Duncan (butterfly) and freshmen Jack Slaysman (breaststroke, 200 IM), Patrick O’Halloran (breaststroke, 200 IM) and Caleb Vaxmonsky (backstroke).

“We lost [some big contributors to graduation], but we’re going to fill those voids and I think we’re hopefully going to be even faster this year,” Deakyne said. “So far, we’re looking good. We still have a long way to go before we’re where we want to get by the end of the season, but we’re going to continue to get in better shape, get better technique and improve throughout. I think we’re at a good starting point.”

Deakyne wants to see swimmers drop their times throughout the season and finish in the top spot at regionals.

“We would love to have a chance to win conferences this year. That would be the ultimate goal,” he said.

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