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Bowman thinks girls can carry heavy load toward competing for overall state swim title


- Marty McCool/www.eventography.net
Finishing second in the state last season, the Farragut High School girls swim and dive team will anchor FHS’s effort to win a coveted overall team (girls and boys) state championship, something that hasn’t happened since the late 1980s.

"Our girls team is incredibly strong," said Mike Bowman, beginning his third season as FHS head coach. "We return most everybody from last year … we should be even stronger this year as a whole."


As for winning a girls state championship, "it’s been discussed, I’d say we stand a very good shot," Bowman said. "But I don’t want to be cocky. Bearden and Webb both have very comparable girls teams to our team."

As for winning the combined state title, the health of senior boys captain Brady Petersen may determine Farragut’s chances. If all goes well during his upcoming shoulder surgery Petersen will return to the team by early January.

If the damage is worse than hoped, Petersen’s FHS career is over. And maybe too is Farragut’s hopes of a combined state title according to Bowman.

“With Brady, I think we stand a real good shot at it,” the coach said. “Without Brady, it would be a struggle but I still think we’d be in the top three.”

FHS GIRLS

Anna Miller, who is expected to gobble up first-place points all season in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle, is special.

"As far as who I’ve worked with, she is probably the most talented athlete I’ve ever worked with on a personal level, boy or girl, probably," said Bowman, who is also a Pilot swim club coach. "I think Anna has a lot of talent, a high caliber athlete. She has a lot of desire, a lot of drive, a lot of ambition. (See Miller’s pictures and caption on page 15).

"She got nationals, and within a month, two months she was hitting Olympic trial (times)."

Senior Jennifer Hill, whose strongest events are the 100–breaststroke and 200-individual medley, "is on the verge of national qualifying times," Bowman said. "She’s another one that puts in the work."

Jane Neidhardt, another senior, is said to be "versatile" according to Bowman. "I haven’t determined how we’ll utilize her," Bowman said. "I’ll depend on where the strengths and weaknesses lie with the rest of the team."

Bowman also praises his team captains, starting with Denise Koessler. "She’s a good leader, a good role model, gets the kids excited," he said. Assistant captain Erin Luchsinger "has come along real nicely."

As for up-and-coming girls, there’s freshman Jessica Hill, Jennifer’s little sister. "She’s very talented and she’s another one that’s very driven, and she loves to compete,” Bowman said.

FHS BOYS

“Brady is one of our stronger male swimmers … he shows a lot of good leadership," Bowman said of his captain. "He is also very versatile. He has state qualifying times in everything except for the 500 (freestyle). Last year he did the 200-IM and 100-free at state."

Senior assistant captain Allen Lloyd, specializing in the 100-backstroke and 200-free, "has shown tremendous improvement, and one that’s had state cuts for the past three years," Bowman said.

"Our strongest boy is probably Bradley Jones, a sophomore, who has also become very diverse as well. He competed at state and got fourth in the 50-free as a freshman. He also placed in the top-eight in the 100-free at state level. He’s definitely our fastest swimmer."

DIVERS

In addition to having three boys on this year’s FHS diving team, Staley McCartney, who finished fourth in the state last season, returns. “She should do real, real well this year, first or second at state,” Bowman said.

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