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Riverside dives into great swim season  

RESERVE — The Riverside Academy swim team commanded attention with a Top 10 placement in the 2019 LHSAA state championship. Returning state qualifiers are ready to dive into another successful season on a team that has tripled in size.

Last year’s swim squad included 13 high schoolers and six middle schoolers. This year, there are 34 competitors on the high school team and an additional 19 swimmers at the middle school level.

Second-year coach Christy Duhe said returning swimmers Ashley Hymel, Camryn Loving, MaKayah LaRose, Kallie Bourgeois, Mason Silvestri, Skylar Edwards and Jackson Kelly have helped the team grow in more ways than one.

The veteran swimmers have been both recruiters and mentors for friends who are learning to swim competitively for the first time.

The Riverside Academy swim team wraps up practice this week at Riverlands Golf and Country Club with Coach Christy Duhe standing overhead.

While there are many new faces, Duhe is pleased with the effort she has seen in the first two weeks of practice. She is confident this team has the grit to go far.

“We are for the most part just doing technique because I have a lot of new swimmers. We are teaching them endurance, how to breathe and dive, the fundamentals of swimming. My returning swimmers are helping me out with teaching them the techniques,” Duhe said.

“A lot of these kids have never swam or have only swam for recreation. It takes a lot of guts and courage to jump in the pool and swim competitively, so I am very excited about that.”

After five months without high school sports, there is a palpable excitement surrounding the season.

“Swimming was really the only main sport that we were able to do in Phase Two,” Duhe said. “A lot of the kids wanted to keep on with their fall activities, and they joined. Also, us placing in the top 10 last year at state kind of got us noticed at school.”

There are some noticeable differences this year. Team members undergo temperature checks every morning. There can only be three swimmers in a lane as opposed to the usual six, and gathering restrictions limit practices to 25 swimmers. Practices are now being held in the morning and the afternoon to accommodate all team members.

Three swimmers are allowed per lane this year to promote social distancing, rather than the usual six.

Duhe said her priority is to make sure the kids have fun while building self-confidence. With a teamwork mentality, she believes Riverside Academy can place even higher at state this year. The first meet of the season will be Sept. 3 at Lutcher High School, and the team appears well prepared.

“With our four returning state qualifiers that swam last year, I think it’s going to be really strong, especially the girls and boys events in the relays,” Duhe said. “They are going to be very strong in the freestyle, the back, the breast and the fly. The team is looking very good all-around in every stroke.”