Catawba County’s swim teams are preparing to compete in their respective conference meets, which start Friday in Valdese.
The Northwestern 3A/4A meet is Friday at 4 p.m. at the Valdese Aquatic and Fitness Center.
Catawba Valley 2A squads meet at the same location Saturday at 8 a.m. for their meet.
Last year, the two meets combined to crown four champions in different schools, including the East Burke and South Caldwell boys and St. Stephens and Draughn girls.
The Lady Indians will try to defend their crown, despite losing six senior swimmers to graduation.
“We have a strong group returning,” said Indians coach LeeAnn Privett. “Look for great races in almost all of the events. The 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 500-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, and of course, the relays will all be exciting. I would expect to see many ‘photo finishes.’”
Foard coach Jeanne Davis also admitted the event will showcase a lot of excitement.
“It should be a very close meet where anybody can win,” she said. “These athletes know they have to perform at the highest level to come out a winner.”
In the Catawba Valley 2A, Newton-Conover tries to improve upon a pair of third-place finishes a year ago.
They’ve set team goals.
“The conference championships are the culmination of months of hard work,” said N-C coach Eileen Crider. “Our goal as a team is that every individual swim is a personal best, which will also help shave time off of the relays.”
Bandys swimmers Jonathan Brown and Michaela Beatty are already state-qualified on automatic times. Both try to guide their respective teams to improvement on their 2011 finishes, which include seventh place by the boys and fourth place for the girls.
Trojans coach John Beatty said he’s implemented a strategy that will hopefully benefit his team in the long term.
“Each swimmer on the Bandys team has cut time and has worked extremely hard this year,” Beatty said. “I’m very proud of their work ethic.
"Swimming is very different than any sport because you have them physically torn down all season and taper the week before conference. If I have done my job correctly, they will cut a lot of time at the conference meet.”
Maiden finished fourth in boys competition and fifth in the girls standings last year.
“I am excited to see how our teams do this year at conference,” said Maiden coach Rachel Miller. “We have grown tremendously over the last two years, and we now have many developing swimmers on the team. I have high hopes for both our men’s and women’s 200-yard freestyle relay teams and I expect to see many improvements in individual time.”
Regardless of their finish, Beatty said the 2A meet is definitely worth a watch on Saturday.
“If you are a big sports fan and like to see elite athletes pushing the limits and swimming top 10 state championship times, I would not miss the 2A conference meet Saturday morning,” he said. “Every event is represented with some of the state’s best swimmers.”