Moving its swim season from winter to fall hasn’t been an issue for the Hermiston High School girls. The success in the pool speaks for itself.
The Bulldogs, under first-year coach Sara Sargent, have seven swimmers who have reached district qualifying times just three weeks into their first season in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
Sargent has 22 swimmers in her program, with sophomores Abby Sharon and Georgia Stevens leading the way.
Sharon eclipsed the district mark in the 100 backstroke by 17 seconds, and also earned a spots and in the 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley relay, and the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Stevens has qualifying times in the 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, and the 50, 200 and 500 freestyle events. Her 500 time is 51 seconds faster than the district standard.
“Abby and Georgia are definitely rock stars,” Sargent said. “I had no idea they were that good.”
While the pair has qualified in several events, they each will have to pick their top four for district.
Senior Aiya Hart has qualified in the 100 butterfly, while freshman Laly Morfin has qualified in the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle.
Rounding out the group are junior Savannah Marsengill (100 butterfly), and freshman twins Mattison Christensen (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly) and McKenna Christensen (200 IM).
“I think they enjoy being separate from the boys (who swim in the winter in the MCC),” Sargent said. “It’s a confidence booster, and they are getting more individual time with coaching.”
Sargent, who grew up in California and swam in high school, took over the swim program from Kevin Hamblin.
“I had been interested in being an assistant coach when I started at the school district,” she said. “When the position opened up, I applied and crossed my fingers.”
The move to the MCC has come with a few challenges, mainly the size of the teams they are competing against, and the fact the Bulldogs do not have any divers.
“I did not know what I was getting myself into,” Sargent said. “I didn’t know if we would have five girls or 40. We have a range of experience from really good to not a lot. They are willing to learn, which is all I ask. I would love to get a dive coach in the future. That is uncharted territory for me.”