Manta Rays compete at regional swim meet

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For one final time this season, the members of the Manta Rays swim team who qualified for the North Central Regional Short Course Meet suited up to compete the weekend of March 19. A meet unlike any other swimmers compete in during the swim season, the Manta Rays adapted well and placed in a wide variety of events.

Since 2018, the regional swim meet has taken place in Des Moines (previously, it alternated between the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota), requiring more travel than most meets, and spanned several days. These factors and several others make it a more difficult meet than the others the Manta Rays compete in. “In addition to travelling a long distance after a long swim season, the swim meet typically falls on the end of spring break, which means that families either have to miss a week of practice or not go on vacation, which is a tough decision to make,” explained Coach Ian Hilbrant: “Regionals was two-and-a-half days long and most meets are a single day of competition. It is always a different experience going out of town, swimming in a different pool, staying overnight in a hotel, and swimming multiple days, but the athletes handled it well and were excited to race.”

Their excitement and careful preparation showed, as four swimmers set a total of seven new Manta Rays team records. Carter Drake-Metzger broke the boys 13-14 200 freestyle record with a time of 2:07.69. Maverick Erwin broke a total of four boys eight and under records by swimming a 1:18.24 100 free style, a 39.93 50 backstroke, a 15.95 25 freestyle, and a 18.03 25 backstroke. Whitney Estabrook set a new girls 11-12 1,000 freestyle record with a time of 13:07.64. Audrey Lee rounded out the new records by swimming a 1:21.69 100 freestyle in the girls eight and under division.

Together, the Manta Rays brought home an impressive number of medals and ribbons as well. Santi Diaz, Carter Drake-Metzger, Maverick Erwin, Whitney Estabrook, Eden Hunter, Kinsley Krieger, and Audrey Lee earned a total of 21 second through eighth place medals. Jeyadev Balachandar, Santi Diaz, Carter Drake-Metzger, Birdie Engelkemier, Whitney Estabrook, Kate Jensen, Kinsley Krieger, and Will Leavens earned 15 ninth through 16th place ribbons. Whitney Estabrook also earned the distinction of fifth place in the individual high point standings, contributing a total of 100 points to the Manta Ray’s team score.

Looking back on what proved an exciting weekend of swimming for the Manta Rays, Hilbrant considered it a success despite its many challenges. “This is a good group of kids that we took to this meet,” he observed. “I think that with every swim meet not everything can go perfectly, so there were some definite highs and lows to the meet, but I would say overall there were a lot more good things that happened to the Manta Rays than bad.”