On the way home from the meet yesterday afternoon, I was trying to think of all the reasons why I enjoyed this first meet so much. Honestly, I loved everything about the weekend. Here’s what I came up with:
*Obviously, I enjoyed the facility, which caught me by surprise. I’ve known about this facility for several years, but had never seen it. Of course, now I’m totally jealous. What a wonderful place – who could’ve imagined such a comfortable facility in the middle of southern KY? The host team hasn’t hosted that many meets, and some that they’ve hosted didn’t fit into our schedule, but now I’ll be looking to fit a meet like this one into our schedule somehow.

*I enjoyed the drive back and forth. Although some may have stayed overnight on Friday night, how nice was it to be able to sleep in your own beds for at least one of the nights? I’ve been born and raised in KY, and I’m very proud to be a Kentuckian, but there’s just something nice about going thru Boyle, Lincoln, Casey, and then Russell County. I had no idea, however, that there were that many farm gate manufacturers. Since HA is considered a “smaller” team, I also enjoyed being able to support another smaller team. I thought the host team ran a very nice, efficient meet and I would put
this one on our schedule again in a heartbeat.

*I think, most importantly, I enjoyed the HA swimmers. For most, it’s been nearly 3 months since we’ve been in a meet and I thoroughly enjoyed this group. This weekend, without a doubt, it was a wonderful group. I love the fact that we all wear the same caps every day. With all blue suits, and the same caps, we looked really good. This may not be important to some, but it is to me. I also very much appreciate that many of the parents wear the same shirts, too. I loved the fact that the older swimmers could interact with the younger swimmers and vice-versa. Having just one session per day won’t be possible for most meets, but it was sure nice for this one!
*Ultimately, though, any swim meet weekend can only be considered “good” if the swimmers perform well. The first meet of any season, be it long course or short course, can be brutal – especially for the most experienced  . After a pretty lengthy break, we’ve only been back in the water for five weeks, and this can make a middle-of-October meet very, very difficult. Then, if you throw in the fact that many have had illnesses and fall-break vacations, it may be hard to find many positive points to an early season meet. All things considered, it was a tremendous weekend. The upper teenagers did extremely well – most were able to be significantly better than at Kingsport one year ago. As a matter of fact, there were 13 out of 17 teenagers who actually posted a lifetime best at this meet, which is very impressive. For the 12 & unders, there were 20 of them who attended this meet, and ALL 20 of them had many best times. Keep reading, but
this was truly a fantastic part of our weekend.

*So….a major ‘thank you’ to all who attended this meet. As a coach, I can tell you that this past weekend was absolutely worthwhile. For those who are serious enough to want to do something special in Ensworth or by the end of March, we have to go to meets, no matter where they are. For those who may just be getting into this, meets can be so helpful and this one certainly was. Besides the nice social part of meets, they are crucial for learning and knowing what we need to do and what we need to work on from here. For sure, many who didn’t swim much during the summer months might have a little catching up to do, but we are definitely heading in the right direction. I feel very good about what I saw (please read below). I know what can happen with more time, and our potential is very encouraging. The bottom line is…., it is a great group. Our improvement was noticeable; our team sportsmanship was very good, and I am so motivated to continue
after this Russell Springs weekend!

The “Swimmer of the Meet” has to be Andrew Tatro – and here’s why. When I list the group of swimmers who may have had ALL bests, or ALL bests except for just one swim, or even ALL except for two, most of the names will be the younger, lesser experienced swimmers. This will obviously be true for a first meet in October. Ave Klefot, Ellie Combs, and Wyatt Brown had phenomenal weekends, as did Edie, Eli, and Everett who were perfect in their Sunday-only day. Riley Nelson and Lizzie Teater had ALL bests except for just one swim (and I think that it is incredibly interesting for both of these girls, that one swim that kept them from having perfect weekends was the very last 50 Free at the very end of the meet yesterday. It makes total sense to miss a 50 Free when there will be a fatigue factor in such a short race). Madison Murray did exactly the same thing, only missing on the very last event on Saturday and Sunday. But Andrew Tatro was remarkable and he is 13. All of his previous best times came from the Versailles meet and the 13&O state meet last March, so it should’ve been unlikely to crush all of them like he did. But I have to tell you, when I announce the Hard Worker of the Month in a couple of weeks, which will include half of September as well as October, it’s going to be Andrew. He has truly worked like no other. It’s been amazing. Ryder Nelson was right there with him. 14YO Ryder had all bests except for just one swim, and the way he’s worked in the past 5 weeks was the obvious reason why. Congrats to this group of swimmers!

The Top 10 Individual Performances of the 2023 Central Kentucky Invitational

#1 – Andrew Tatro – 200 IM. The most impressive swim that I saw from this weekend had to be Andrew’s 200 IM. Since his very interesting beginning, joining HA back in the summer of Covid summer of 2020, Andrew’s improvement has been no less than amazing. But for him to drop 10.36 seconds on a 200 IM is almost unbelievable, and a true testament to what I mentioned above about his dedication and effort. On Friday night, he probably turned in one of the most impressive first-ever 400 IM’s I’ve ever seen. Fantastic weekend, and it’s been such a pleasure to be his weight room partner!!

#2 – Lizzie Teater – 200 Free. This was way more than a great Birthday swim; this was a beautiful 10.71-second drop on a 200 Free. This is what I’m trying to explain, as to why the weekend was so enjoyable. Most of you wouldn’t ever know the Lizzie I met two years ago when she told me, rather emphatically, “I’ll be on the team, but there’s no way I’m going to any meets!” Now, just two short years later, the smiles that she brings over to me after the races are priceless. The way she carries herself, and how polite she is in and out of the water – this is exactly why I’m addicted to working with these children. I’m so proud of what this child has accomplished since she joined the team!!

#3 – Ava Klefot – 200 Free. Although Ava literally crushed all of her times in all races, it was the one race that she’d never done that impressed me the most. It is just so rare to see a young 8YO do the 200 Free the way she did. Obviously, she is a great athlete already, but the way this little pint-size youngen moves through the water makes it a lot of fun. Although she’ll turn 9 in December, this time already qualifies for the 9-10 State cut!!

#4 – Riley Nelson – 100 Back. Although Riley has become a very strong breaststroker, and she did have lifetime bests in the 50 and 100 Breast, I think it’s the improvement she’s made in the 200 IM and events like the 100 Back that make me happy. Last Wednesday, when I gave her a little speech during practice, I told her how impressed I am with her because she obviously doesn’t mind the work. She truly has such a great attitude in practice, and when she continues to grow into her feet, she’s just going to keep getting better and better.

#5 – Ellie Combs – 25 Fly. Last year, Ellie was actually a “Swimmer of the Meets” at one of our meets as a 6YO. Then she could’ve won that honor again at another meet after that one. She was certainly in the hunt for this honor yet again at this RS meet. She’s done that well. Last week, when she was in my group one day, I got ‘em all out of the water and gave them my underwater and streamline speech, a daily thing, which unfortunately goes in one ear and out the other for too many. But I marveled at the way little Ellie focused and exaggerated on her underwaters. She pushed off right next to another older and larger boy who literally took 4 backstrokes before Ellie even surfaced. How cool is it to see a 7YO do this when there are 16YO’s who can’t figure this out? On Saturday, Ellie dove in, held on to a perfect streamline, took about 5 butterfly kicks, and proceeded to drop 5.13 seconds in just a 25 Fly. Gorgeous!

#6 – Joshua Tatro – 200 Free. Not all Top 10 swims have to necessarily be lifetime bests. This swim from Joshua has to be the perfect example. For an older, more experienced swimmer, there is no way in the world that they’re going to go to an October meet have a best time in an event like the 200 Free, or better yet the 200 Fly or 200 Breast. But when you see a swim like Joshua’s 200 Free that was only a little over 2 seconds away from a best, you absolutely know what will happen by the time the Ensworth meet rolls around.

#7 – Tie, literally, between Blake Kelly and Will Combs – 200 Free. These two boys swam right next to each other yesterday, in Lane 1 & 2. It was a great race, and at the end, both finished with an identical 2:52.11. In the rest of their swimming careers, this may never happen again. But the truth is, neither probably would’ve done as well had it not been for the other one. I was really glad to see this for both of them. Both ended up with 5 personal bests throughout the weekend, which totally makes for a nice season-opening meet.

#8 – Wyatt Brown – 50 Back. From these newsletters, and an annual banquet, I’m sure you can tell that I believe it’s very important to remember where we were, where each swimmer was a year ago. Sure, it’s vital that we know where we’re headed, but we should never take for granted where we’ve come from. A year ago, little Wyatt had just joined the team and didn’t go to our first meet or two. When he did finally attend his first meet (Ensworth 2022), the improvement seemed to take off and he made significant improvement throughout the spring. That’s what made this weekend so much fun, to see how much he once again beat all of his entry times. I thought the 50 Back was really quite a sign of how far this 8YO had come in the last year!

#9 – Jackson Campbell – 200 Fly. Admittedly, I almost feel sorry for those swimmers who I put in the 200 Fly at the first meet of any season. Being a 200 Flier, I know how awful this is, and unless you’ve ever experienced this event, I can tell you, you have no idea. I definitely don’t use this event as some type of punishment. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I truly love and admire those who I check this box for in the meet entry process. For the hardest workers, they can usually escape this race without quitting or crying. In mid-October, no one is really ready for this event, but Jackson became the only one on the team who actually had a lifetime best in this event. This is evidence of how he works, how he prepares, and what an amazing positive approach he is developing. His weight room partner, Amelia Lee, had a similar result in her 200 Back this weekend. And although his entry time in the 400 IM was a little over a year old, he dropped 20 seconds in this race. Mia Foley did the same thing, dropping almost 22 seconds in her 4IM. There were numerous signs like this throughout the weekend, and it’s a great sign.

#10 – Elise Galan – 200 Free. 10YO Elise had a lot of good swims this weekend, but none better than this 13.85 second drop in her 200 Free. This is extraordinary for early in the season, and Edie Commerford and Allison Newsom posted similar results with their 10-second drops in the 200 Free. In this same category, I’d have to include Caroline Broadbent whose best weekend swim was her 6.31-second drop in this same event. For the 13 & Overs, Jack Lee had the best 200 Free with a personal best already. This is exciting stuff, and it should give a lot of confidence for practice and the next BG meet.