Salina Aquatics Club (SAC) Reflects on Strong First Half, Sets Sights on Exciting Spring Competitions

Salina Aquatics Club (SAC) Reflects on Strong First Half, Sets Sights on Exciting Spring Competitions
Photo by Thomas Park / Unsplash

As Salina Aquatics Club (SAC) returns to the pool after a well-deserved holiday break, they reflect on the first half of the short course swimming season and take stock of a string of successful meets that laid the groundwork for an eagerly awaited spring.

Fall Meet Recap:
The fall meets were a testament to the grit and talent of SAC's swimmers, showcasing the club's pursuit of excellence. Fall meets are typically used to build the stamina necessary to work through the season’s grind, make changes to mechanics, and try new technique changes while establishing qualifying times for spring championship meets. The fall meets started in early October with a trip to Wichita State’s Wiedemann Natatorium for the Battle in ICT. Competitions in Hutchinson, Topeka, Lenexa, and another trip to Wichita made up the fall schedule, with all swimmers making significant gains and achieving personal bests.

Most of the focus in the fall was on the senior squad, with several junior high and high school swimmers participating in multiple meets. The senior swimmers are led by Ali Richardson, a Southeast of Saline Junior whose fall season was marked by a great early December outing at the KCB Winter Classic in Lenexa where she achieved season-best numbers in every event, along with a personal best cut in the 100 yd freestyle, leading to a 5th place finish in that event and 22nd overall in a highly competitive meet that brought together swimmers from four states.

On the boys’ side, up-and-coming swimmer Clayton Shamburg, an 8th grader from Bennington, put up season-best numbers at Topeka Swim Association’s Halloween Spooktacular meet. He swam seven events at the meet, improving his best time in six events, only narrowly missing a then-personal best in the 50 yd freestyle by only 0.02 seconds. Clayton took home a top finish of 2nd place in the 200 yd breaststroke and 6th place overall in his division.

From the junior squad, Lindsborg swimmer Caroline King, and Salina’s Mya Fulkerson and Otto Cote are continuing their development, with Caroline putting up personal best numbers at Hutchinson’s meet in November, posting an impressive 20-second drop on her 100 yd backstroke at that meet, moving her into a 5th place finish.

Spring Anticipation:

With the fall chapter closed, SAC is gearing up for the upcoming regional championship meets in the spring. The spring schedule includes several return visits to invitationals in Topeka, Wichita, and Hutchinson before wrapping up with progressive championship meets hosted this year in Wichita and Topeka.

Swimmers are primed for the challenge, eager to compete at a higher level, break personal records, and make waves for the club. Along with Richardson and Shamburg, Salina Central sophomore Josie Ebel and Abilene 8th grader Lily Gruen are poised to peak just in time for a strong run in the championship meets, while Southeast of Saline sophomore Matthew Whelchel completes the KSHSAA boys’ high school season and should return to club swimming in time to join the squad at champs.

Coach Jake Jacobs shared his thoughts on the road ahead, "Our swimmers have put good effort into the first half of the season. Looking forward to the spring meets, I think we're poised for more growth and achievements as a team.”

USA Swimming’s championship meet format allows many of the top swimmers in each event to continue to rise through the various progressive meets, with swimmers ultimately able to qualify to participate in elite meets such as the Futures Championship, Junior National Championship, and ultimately the Senior Nationals and US Olympic Trials. Each of the championship meets, even at the regional level, requires either qualifying times or prior top finishes to enter, so participation at even the lowest levels is a great accomplishment.

Ice Melt 2024:

The spring meets are pivotal for SAC's swimmers, offering a platform to shine and vie with the best in the region. Salina will be hosting teams from across the state at their annual spring home “Ice Melt”. The meet will be hosted at the Salina South High School Natatorium on January 13 and 14, 2024, with a 10:00 AM meet start each day. Admission is free to the public. The club extends thanks to the community, families, and sponsors for their support as SAC enters this exciting phase of the season.

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