MUSCATINE, Iowa–For the Manta Rays swim team at the Muscatine Community Y, this year’s state championship looked very different than in years past. Despite these changes, all of the swimmers rose to the challenge and helped propel the Manta Rays to their first ever state championship.
The state swim meet, a two day event usually crowded with spectators and athletes waiting for their turn to compete, took on a more streamlined format than in years past. Instead of having separate days for male and female athletes to compete, swimmers received times based on their age and events. With related events collected into time slots lasting two hours or fewer, swimmers faced a more daunting task than at a typical meet.
Even so, coach Jocelyn Paxton saw great success and improvement from the Manta Ray swimmers: “All of our athletes did extremely well considering the rapid pace of each session. We had a lot of time drops and points earned,” she observed. Among some of the youngest swimmers, eight-year-old Maverick Erwin finished first in the 50-yard backstroke, second in the 25-yard backstroke, and third in the 100-yard individual medley. Eight and under 100-yard relay team members Allie Cochran, Eden Hunter, Kinsley Krieger, and Audrey Lee placed second, dropping their time from 1:29.26 to 1:24.33 Audrey also improved her 100-yard individual medley, placing third and dropping her time from 1:39.73 to 1:36.30.
For the older swimmers, 14-year-old Ava Boyer earned ninth place for the 100-yard butterfly, setting a new Manta Rays record of 1:08.83. In the 15-21 girls 200 yard medley relay, Anna Boyer, Ava Boyer, Izzy Simpson, and Madi Young earned eighth place with Madi pulling off a surprise 29.51 split for her 50-yard freestyle leg of the race. 14-year-old Carter Drake-Metzger earned 8th place in the 100-yard backstroke and 6th in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle races. Carter also won the Manta Ray of the Year award for what Paxton described as an, “exceptional work ethic in and out of the pool, good sportsmanship, leadership, inclusiveness, and fantastic attitude.”
After celebrating their first ever Division Four state championship, 12 Manta Rays’ athletes look forward to competing in their final meet of the year, the North Central Regional Short Course Meet in Des Moines. From March 19-21, these swimmers will put their skills to the test against other state champions from other regions in 44 different events.