by Jack Ellis and Sydney Reiners
In their final month of the season, Orono High School's swim and dive teams are ready to take on their opponents at sections and conference. Although this year was a “rebuilding year,” according to head coach Pete Buecher, the team is “really strong.”
The swim team took a huge loss after losing three record holders this year.
“We didn’t get as many people to fill the fast graduate’s place as we needed to,” explained Buecher.
Although the team's ranking isn’t at their highest, some individual records are being challenged and—in the case of freshman Sam Norton—broken. Norton broke her own record in the 200-yard individual medley last Thursday night against Litchfield by more than two seconds.
“It may not seem like a lot, but in swimming, it is,” Norton stated.
Norton is also one to look out for in the 100-yard freestyle, among other events.
“Sam is a phenomenal all-around swimmer,” explained Beucher, who later went on to compare her to the great Michael Phelps. “I give her goals and challenges to keep her going. I have very high expectations for her and she knows that.”
Norton isn’t the only one on the team to keep your eyes open for.
Seniors Emilyjohn Connors, Hannah Lyrek and Marissa Esterberg are also looking to claim big spots at the conference meet in freestyle, 100 back and 100 breast.
The three seniors are also joined by diver Cora McCuskey to make up the four captains currently on the roster.
“Our captains this year are great leaders,” coach Buecher said. “Hannah is 'The Boss,' and she encourages through cheers and yelling.”
Buecher later when on to explain that Esterberg is a big leader during dry land training and EJ is “The Silent One" who "acts as a mother to the team.”
Captain Amanda Eberle is out this season with an injury.
The diving team has set some goals of it’s own. Diving coach Todd Hansen wants to see the team improve in two areas.
“I would like to see us have three varsity divers by the end of the season,” he said.
Current varsity divers include captain and senior Cora McCuskey and freshman Megan Donaldson. Team member and ninth-grader Anna Miller "almost ready for varsity,” according to captain McCuskey.
“She needs to get one more dive down and she’ll be ready," McCuskey said.
When it comes to diving, "it’s hard work,” Cora said.
After an injury her sophomore year she was forced to quit gymnastics and decided to take up diving instead because, “you do the same things in the air, except the landing on your head—that one was different.”
McCuskey and her coach both hope to see her make it to State this year, which would mean she must place in the top two in her section.
Both the swimming and diving team are in a season with many young athletes, and each year they will improve.
“I’m excited for the girl’s to grow and to become even better,” stated Hansen, “And I know they will.”
The Girl’s Swim and Dive Wright County Conference Meet will take place on Oct. 27, followed by Sections on Nov. 8 and 10.