MUSCATINE, Iowa–This swim season, the Muscatine Community Y’s Manta Rays Swim Team have sharpened their skills by leaps and bounds. In a sport where seconds (and even fractions of a second) count, Manta Rays Head Coach Jocelyn Paxton has seen this year’s swimmers improve their times dramatically over the course of the winter. “This has been an unprecedented season for time drops from our athletes,” she stated. “They have consistently dropped time each meet and sometimes, in very large amounts.” Overall, the team has dropped a total of 41.25 minutes from their collective time, putting them in a good spot before the state meet.
This year, 26 Manta Rays swimmers attended the Iowa YMCA State Meet held in Marshalltown March 5 and 6, with 18 qualifying for individual events and eight qualifying only as part of a relay team. Together, the Manta Rays competed in 45 events and had eight relay teams compete.
At the state swim meet, swimmers received medals and ribbons based not only on their overall performance but also got points based on the division they swim in, determined by the number of swimmers they have competing. Two Manta Rays swimmers medaled this year, with Kinsley Krieger earning second place in the eight and under individual medley and third place in both the eight and under 25- and 50-meters breaststroke. Maverick Erwin placed second in both the nine to 10-year-old 50- and 100-meters backstroke.
Many other Manta Rays swimmers distinguished themselves at the meet too. Santi Diaz, seeded ninth in the 100 backstroke, defied expectations by placing fifth overall and first in division four. Three of the eight and under girls swimming backstroke showed off their skills as well, with 21st seed Hadley Hunter earning fourth place overall and first in division four, 14th seed Alexandra Lee earning fifth place overall and third in division four, and eighth seed Keira Kassel earning 7th place overall and fourth in division four.
The Manta Rays had some exciting relays too. Anna, Ava, Ella, and Era Boyer made history as the first relay team to have all of its members come from one family. The Boyers swam well, earning 7th place in the medley relay. They also gave the crowd quite a show in their free relay where they made a comeback in the last 100 yards of the race to win seventh place overall and second in division four.
The 13-14-year-old free relay team consisting of Brynn Castle, Isabelle Eagle, Whitney Estabrook, and Maya Simpson had a notable outing, earning eighth place overall and third in division four.
Each year at the state meet, all of the teams participating may name both a male and a female athlete to the Iowa State All-Star Team, which recognizes them for their dedication to their team, good sportsmanship, and embodiment of the YMCA values of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. This year, 12-year-old Maddox Warren and 13-year-old Maya Simpson earned this honor, receiving recognition at the meet as well as a small present.
All in all, Paxton thought the Manta Rays had an exceptional state meet. “We had several compliments from the meet volunteers that our athletes were very well behaved and respectful in event staging areas and between races,” she shared.