River Parish Swim League set for new season

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008


Sports Editor

The month of June signifies the first month with no school. It means a lot of heat. It means that snowball stands and ice cream trucks are going to be plenty busy.

And for many of the young swimmers in the River Parishes, it means the spotlight is on, every Monday and Thursday night.

 That’s because the River Parish Swim League is back, and seven teams will vye for championship glory in 2008.

Prospects appear good for the three LaPlace-based teams, Larayo, Riverlands, and Belle Terre. The top of that mountain has been dominated by Larayo in recent years, making the Barracudas the perennial championship favorites year in and year out

They will try to defend their ’07 River Parish crown this year with a lighter roster – Larayo has lost 30 swimmers from a year ago. But Coach Michelle Jensen isn’t concerned, believing that the swimmers she has on the roster are skilled enough to keep the team strong as ever.

“We should be fine,” said Jensen. “We’ve got a pretty experienced team. So many have been with us for a number of years. It’s why we’ve been so strong, they keep following through until their senior years.”

Jensen said that, with an eye toward the River Parish Invitational Championship meet at Lavacherie that begins July 11, she aims for her team to have as many qualifiers as possible – swimmers must participate in four meets to move on to the championship.

“What I’d like to see is commitment. Take part in the practices, the meets, even if it’s only in one event. It’s hard with baseball and other conflicts, but if they can do that, it’ll help in the end,” she said.

Jensen says she looks for big years out of Maggie Trepagnier in the 13-14 year old age group, as well as Brandon Klibert in the 11-12 year old boys group, among others.  

Trepagnier took the championship last season in the championship Invitational’s 11-12 year old breaststroke, butterfly, and individual medley events, while Klibert took first in the 11-12 year old individual medley, and second in the backstroke and freestyle.

She also believes the 9-10 year old age groups will prove to be a team strength.

Riverlands, meanwhile, finished second to Larayo last season and has seen its roster grow to 125, 30 higher than a year ago.

Stingrays’ Coach Carla Lambert expects an even stronger effort from this year’s team than the second place unit of 2007.

“If the kids keep working hard, like they are right now, we should be even better,” said Lambert.

Many of the new swimmers this year are young, which Lambert says is a positive for the future.

“We have a lot more young kids on the team this year, and we can develop them,” she said.

Lambert pointed out some of her veterans in the 15-18 year old range, like Kyle Wilking (1st in the boys’ 15-18 breaststroke at the ’07 Invitational, second in the ind. medley and butterfly), and Merryn Guidry (1st in the girls’ freestyle, breaststroke and ind. medley) to each help lead the team.

She also believes the Stingrays will have a strong presence in the younger age groups. Sara Guidry and Grace Richoux (7 & 8 year olds) each had strong years a season ago, as did Anna Guidry (6 & under). All will be back this year.

Belle Terre is another team with a boost this season, up to 90 swimmers from 60. Laura Bailey takes over as coach from Kellie Forster, a season removed from swimming on the team herself.

She says that building good team chemistry will be a focus in her first year.

“We want to make sure the kids use good technique, build team unity and team spirit as far as caring for one each other,” Bailey said.

Belle Terre finished fifth a year ago at the Invitational, but could be poised to make a move upward with its stronger numbers.

Bailey says that the 15-18 year old boys look to be a team strength, behind Ashton Torres, James Krawczyk, Marcus Brinkman and Cody McMurray.

Cari Jane Roussel (11- 12), Ansley St. Pierre (13-14), and Gage Allemand (11-12) are also among returning swimmers who Bailey expects to make an impact this season.