Strength in numbers for Alta swim team
Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM
● By Ron Bevan
Alta’s Lydia Stueber leads the Hawks’ girls swimming team as captain and the most experienced swimmer. (Ron Bevan/City Journals)
The swimming pool gets a little busy when the Alta swimming team shows up for practice. Lanes fill quickly and swimmers are nearly touching each other as they swim lap after lap.
“This is the biggest team I have had since I began coaching here,” Alta swim coach Kelsie Court said. “I am excited to see what we can do with a good mix of newcomers and veterans.”
The swimming program at Alta High School has had its share of large teams. But when Corner Canyon split from the school five years ago, the numbers fell drastically. Still, the Hawks have been able to keep around 25 to 30 students on the team from year to year, more than enough to fill all the slots between individual and relay teams on both boys and girls teams.
But an influx of 30 additional swimmers this season has the team at near record numbers for the program.
“We have a lot of new freshmen and sophomores of course,” Court said. “But we also added new juniors and seniors who haven’t competed previously at the high school level. It is rare to get newcomers as seniors, so it is great to have them join us.”
Court has about 15 seniors on this year’s team, a group that is dear to her heart. These are the students she began the program with when she became the swimming coach at Alta.
“This is my first group to have for all four years,” Court said. “They are very special to me.”
Leading the way on the boys side are four seniors that are already setting state qualifying times. Steven Hood, Dakota Dalley and Nate Bookout have picked up from their performances last season. And Sawyer Stevens is already setting a blistering pace in the dashes after taking a couple years off from swimming. All three help with the relays and swim the sprints. Dalley also adds the butterfly as a specialty.
“Dalley’s form in the butterfly is so smooth and beautiful,” Court said. “He seems to glide through the water.”
Stevens has been the surprise for the Hawks. He last swam on the team as a freshman. But in his first meet back on the team, Stevens won the 50-yard freestyle, a race usually reserved for the most seasoned swimmers.
“I have never seen someone come back from a break and swim a dash like that,” Court said.
Bookout and Hood were the only returning swimmers to reach the state meet last season. Both are using their experience in a leadership for the larger team this season.
On the girls side, it is Lydia Stueber leading the way for a much younger squad.
“She is the most hardworking girl on our team,” Court said. “Her stroke is gorgeous and she always wants to improve it.”
Two newcomers are already showing great results for the lady Hawks. Junior Megan Smith brings her experience on club teams to Alta for the first time, and freshman Destiny Maack is already making a name for herself on the squad.
“I have so many good swimmers this year. I am excited to see where we can finish,” Court said.