Depth, experience hope to lead to success in pool for Indians

There is plenty of hope and optimism for the Indian River High School girls’ swim team this season, thanks to a plethora of depth and experience that returns to the pool for the 2019-2020 season.

Head coach Dana Schaefer is back for her sixth season leading the way, and believes the Indians have the ability to improve upon last season’s 5-7 dual meet mark.

“The Indian River girls know we will be bringing swimmers to the state championship qualifying meet again,” Schaefer stated last week. “Our goals include swimming as a family, supporting each other and celebrating each other’s victories as we shoot for a winning record. This will be a season when the girls surprise themselves — and we surprise our opponents — with a barrage of best times and breakout stars.”

Juniors Emma Barthelmess and Lexi Hall will be two of the team’s top swimmers this season. According to Schaefer, Barthelmess is a “dominating competitor,” and she will be involved with the 100 breaststroke and freestyle, as well as the 50 freestyle. Hall, a “leader by modeling focused training every day,” according to Schaefer, will be participating in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events.

Senior Emma Kelly is “the heart of our family team,” said Schaefer, and will be swimming the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke for the Indians.

Schaefer and the Indians are excited for the emergence of a couple of freshmen, in the form of Bella Scharp and Jordan Gonzales, for this year’s squad. Scharp can swim every event, and “her strength and speed will make her a powerful competitor in the right event right when we need her,” said Schaefer. Gonzales, who is “multi-talented,” Schaefer said, will swim the 200 individual medley and various other events.

“Last year, our swimmers worked to increase the depth and versatility of the team,” Schaefer added. “It’s exciting to have new girls who can already swim multiple events, alongside senior Morgan Gray, junior Maelyn Bryan and sophomore Madison Bemis, who swam every event last year.”

Schaefer and the team will have to find replacements for graduated Amber Hills and Kaitlyn Kreiser, who were the team’s captains as well as key motivators on relays and in practices.

“We coaches are being wowed by how quickly the new team members are picking up the strokes and improving,” Schaefer continued. “Madeline Harris, a junior and newcomer, already has a strong butterfly stroke, for example. This is one of many little victories that will add up to big victories in the meets. We’re excited for strong swims from sophomores Emma Rickards and Nadia Czyzewski, both of whom have goals of significantly dropping their times from last year.

“Our relays have greater depth with our returning swimmers, senior Elizabeth Towne and junior Becca Embrey, leading their new swim sisters, which includes the likes of freshman Mya MacDonald, junior Lauren Carter, sophomore Ava Tomlinson, sophomore Taylor Smeby and sophomore Olivia Sananikone.”

The Indians girls — like their male counterparts — will only host three home dual meets this season. They will welcome Dover to the Howard T. Ennis School on Thursday, Dec. 12, with Polytech coming in on Thursday, Jan. 9, and Cape Henlopen visiting on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The first meet of the season will be at the Central Delaware YMCA as IR battles host Caesar Rodney and Milford on Wednesday, Dec. 4.


By Jason Feather
Staff Reporter