McNary swim will rely on seniors to lead small roster

Zander Rhoades is expected to be one of the leaders for the McNary swim team this season (File).

With more than 70 student-athletes on the roster, the McNary swim program was beginning to build on a solid foundation after the 2020 season. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, head coach Casey Lewin felt that the squad lost some of their momentum.

“That was definitely hard to swallow. We were really making strides as a program. Our girls relay team could have been a district champion, top five in state, type of team. But that’s the way it shook out. It wasn’t just us that was affected by it. We’re all in the boat together,” Lewin said.

With the entire 2021 spring shortened season featuring just exhibition races, several McNary upperclassmen elected to not participate last season. Although the swim team has about 30 less athletes in the program, Lewin thinks having a smaller crew will help his kids develop faster in the 2021-22 campaign. 

“When you have that big of a team practicing on six lanes, it can be hard to get things done. It’s much more manageable having seven or eight per lane. In a way, I think a smaller team will help us rebuild what we lost,” Lewin said. “We’re excited to get back in the water.”

After making some noise at the Mountain Valley Conference (MVC) district meet two years ago, senior Paris Boyd looks to be the Celtics top hope for qualifying for the state meet in her final season with the Celtics. She reached the podium in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-free, along with helping two of McNary’s relay teams to top-six finishes.

“(Boyd’s) freestyle has been getting stronger and faster. She could have a really special season,” Lewin said.

Keiran Montague is expected to be the girls’ best butterfly swimmer while Kyra Nordstrom should take the top spot in the backstroke.

“Both of them have a ton of potential,” Lewin said.

The backstroke is expected to be one of Kyra Nordstrom’s top events for the Celtics (File).

The McNary boys’ team, on the other hand, has a slew of experienced swimmers returning to the team, none more talented than junior Zach Kilby.

As a freshman, Kilby took second in the 50-free at the district meet, and placed third in the 100-free. He also swam the anchor on the 200-free and 400-free relay teams that finished in the top four.

“I think he will be our best kid for sure. If last year hadn’t been a short season, I think he would have been sub-23 seconds,” Lewin said. 

From a leadership perspective, Lewin will be relying on seniors Zander Rhoades, Ben Standley and Tyshin Nguyen.

“They have been doing a great job as leaders of this team. It is nice having those kids,” Lewin said.

Lewin also says he will be counting on the versatility of sophomore swimmer Caleb Skipper.

“He is super talented. I can put him in any race,” Lewin said.

Lewin says that he doesn’t have concrete goals for the team, he just wants all of his swimmers to show improvement over the course of the season.

“I try to not get them caught up if they win the race. I just want them to get faster,” Lewin said. “Our kids that have been around for four years have bought in and really understand if you come every day and work on what you need to work on, then the success will take care of itself.”

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]