NORWICH - The Norwich Purple Tornado girls swim team were a fierce group this season with eight swimmers leading to a fourth place finish at sectionals. An impressive finish that Coach Saundra Gantt was proud of.
“Having all eight girls make the sectional consolations and finals and perform
well really helped,” She said. “They really wanted to do well and we really wanted to move up as a team. We knew that fourth was as high as we could go based on the way the other teams were performing all season and numbers.”
Despite moving from a full 14 squad in the previous season to just eight this time around, the girls stayed positive and swam some of their best times, including shaving off 85 seconds in sectionals.
Leading the way for Norwich this season was Nina Kman. She became a repeat two-time champion at sectionals with victories in the 200 and 500 freestyle. With only being a sophomore, she has gone beyond expectations.
“Nina works hard in the water and I know she did a little off-season swimming with one of our former swimmers. She does every set the way it is written,” Gantt said. “She hits all her times. She pays attention to her competitors' times and splits and has a strategy going into the race and sticks with it. She has come a long way and still has a lot more in her. She’s also just built for those mid-events. She rides high on top of the water and her kick alone drives those swims.”
Kman also has set a fine example to her teammates who are proud of her, but strive to be the best in their own positions.
“The other girls are motivated in their own right. Don’t get me wrong, they are
very happy and proud of Nina and her success but they are all pretty accomplished in their own rights in their individual events,” Gantt said.”But also, they have more in them. Luckily, we have next season.”
Seniors Regan Finnegan and Adrianna Palmer also had impressive finishes in the sectional finals. Finnegan earned eighth place in the 200 yard individual medley while finishing in 13th for the backstroke. Palmer achieved 14th place in the 200 individual medley and earned a point from a 16th place finish in the breaststroke event.
Both will be missed next season.
“Both athletes are very hard workers in both the pool and in the weight room. They are also both extremely great leaders,” Gantt said. “These two kept the tradition going and quite frankly are the grit of the team. With Regan, we are losing someone who can go anywhere in the line up. She is very versatile. They both leave some big shoes to fill.”
Gantt also looks forward to seeing her team work hard in the offseason and looks to expand the future of the Norwich swimming and diving program.
One way that swimmers can enhance their skills is by joining the Norwich YMCA Dolphins Swim Team. This program goes from October to March.
There is also talks of starting a grade level swim program in the spring to keep the youth engaged in swimming. It could also include some diving aspects, but the whole process is still in the works.
While these options are available, Gantt wants to remind interested athletes that you don’t have to be an experienced swimmer to join the swim team.
“At the varsity level, we are always looking for new swimmers and divers. I know so many get intimidated by the sport thinking you have to join the team already knowing how to swim, but you don’t. We can teach you how you swim. That is actually the fun part for me,” she said. “You just have to be patient and willing and have fun with it. Our team works hard, but we have so much fun together and we laugh a lot. Every member of our team brings value and every member of our team gets to participate. Everyone swims.”
Gantt also would like to thank the community for all their support this season.
“We just want to thank the community for all their support. We also want to thank Nina’s, the VFW and the Riverside Redemption Center for all they do for us,” she said. “It does not go unnoticed by the girls or myself. We consider ourselves pretty lucky and we are grateful.” The swim team gathered together on Thursday evening to celebrate the 2022 season and handed out team and STAC all-star awards.
Most Valuable- Nina Kman
Most Improved- Adrianna Palmer
Coaches Award- Regan Finnegan
STAC East All-Division All Stars:
STAC Central/East All Conference All Star: Nina Kman
Congratulations to the 2022 Norwich Purple Tornado girls swim team.