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Swimmers start season with top teams

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

Park City High School head swim coach Matt Hayes may never miss an important meeting again.

While hemming and hawing over whether to return to the helm of one of the most successful prep swim programs in the state due to a job change, Park City development level coach Mike Werner attended a prep scheduling meeting in Hayes’ place. He seemed like a suitable stand-in at the time until Hayes discovered that many of the state’s top teams, from all different levels, were scheduled to go against the Miners during the regular season.

But Hayes isn’t panicking just yet. He returns some of the state’s top swimmers among both the boys and girls ranks and welcomes a large crew of underclassmen. Unfortunately, many of the young swimmers are not from the local development program, PCAT or Park City Aquatic Team, so their raw talent will need to be developed quickly.

"We’ll be top-heavy with a lot of new kids," Hayes said. "We just don’t have the depth. But all that depends on how we develop. I have been impressed with their work ethic."

Headlining the female returnees is senior Stephanie Tomlin, who lived abroad last year and did not compete for Park City, but continued to train and condition. She will be joined by Samantha Case, Lindsay Shand, Julie Dye, Samantha Margolis and Tiffany Henry.

"We’ll be faster on the top end," Hayes said.

There are also a number of fast swimmers returning for the boys team, including four top seniors, Tyler Pool, Dylan Ragland, Andrew Guiliano and Ryan Geer.

Participation numbers are also increasing for the boys. This year’s team has about 25 swimmers, compared to last year’s team of 14. Hayes says that he used to joke that they should host "Bring a Friend Day" at practice just to recruit more boys to the team.

Now, with the depth in place, Hayes just hopes to hone the raw talent into another strong state contender. They will begin by facing top talent as soon as Wednesday, when they host Lone Peak and American Fork, two of division 5A’s toughest teams. Over the weekend, the team will travel north to the Logan Invitational at Utah State University to meet more state hopefuls, such as Logan, Judge and Springville.

Hayes says he isn’t sure if swimming against the best so soon will challenge the team to raise their talent level or hurt their confidence. He will be short-handed at the Logan meet, because of standardized tests scheduled at the same time. But from a coaching strategy standpoint, Hayes is trying to be optimistic.

"I’ll get to see the best teams and they won’t get to see us," he laughed.

The Miners will host American Fork and Lone Peak on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center at 3 p.m. The Miners will compete at the Logan Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 21 starting at 9 a.m. at Utah State University.


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