LARAYO, Riverlands earn 1st & 2nd place titles at 2018 swim inivitational

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

LULING — With a college swimming career at Ouachita Baptist University right around the corner, Alex Noel of LaPlace was eager to end his last River Parish Swim League invitational with a bang.

Alex accomplished his goal, finishing his Riverlands Swim Team career this month as the two-year top scorer in his age group among six competitive River Region teams.

His 11-year-old brother, Nathan Noel, stood beside him as the top scorer in the 11/12 age group at the Ellington-hosted invitational.

The Riverlands Stingrays bounced back from a fourth place summer league performance to snatch second at the invitational meet, a feat Nathan said resulted from increased motivation.

Hartley Faucheux shows off a high jump following her pool success for the LARAYO Barracudas swim team.

The LARAYO Barracudas swam to a first place title, keeping a firm hold of an undefeated tradition that dates back nearly 20 years.

More than 640 points separated the Barracudas from the Stingrays, but LARAYO coach Michelle Jensen said this year’s competition was “closer than ever,” with many of the deciding points coming from relay races near the end of the meet.

She attributes her team’s continuous success to the loyalty of swimmers and parents.

“A lot of them text me early in the spring to ask me when the invitational is so they can schedule their summer plans around it,” Jensen said.

Jensen said she’s proud of 6 & under swimmer Adeline Michel for coming in fourth during her first year swimming and Colden West for winning three gold medals in the boys 7/8 category.

Individual winners also included Ali Duhe, second place, and Kaylee Milioto, tied for fourth place in girls 7/8; Hartley Faucheux, first place, and Adrienne Arnett, second place in girls 9/10; Matthew Schexnayder, fourth place in boys 11/12; Kelsie Williams, tied for second place, and Zoe Zaidain, fourth place, in girls 15-18.

LARAYO swimmer Adeline Michel and coach Michelle Jensen are all smiles by the pool.

“I’m proud of everyone who swam for our team and for all the other teams,” Jensen said, adding the Riverlands Stingrays did a solid job fielding relays.

Riverlands high scorers included Alex and Nathan Noel; Jade Chauvin, third place in girls 6 and under; Rosie Bourgeois, fourth place in girls 11/12; Aubrey Westbrook, third place in girls 13/14; and Maddie Simpson, second place in girls 15-18.

Mia Oncale was the overall top scorer in the girls 11/12 division.

Nathan said swimming is a team effort, whether it involves relays or individual races adding to a combined score.

“I give it everything I have, no matter if I’m behind or in front the race,” Nathan said.

“If you don’t give it your all, you’re not helping the team anymore.”

He’s proud of his team for not giving up despite a challenging season, and he’s proud of himself for improving his times to 38.53 seconds in the 50m backstroke, 36 seconds in the 50m butterfly and 1:21.49 minutes in the 100m individual medley.

Nathan hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps by attending a Division I or Division II college on a swimming scholarship.

Alex secured times of 30.6 seconds in the backstroke, 35.5 seconds in the 50m breaststroke and 1:05.7 minutes in the 100m individual medley.