Led by a handful of returning athletes, the Owensboro girls’ swim team is off to a strong start as they try to repeat the achievements from last year’s standout season.
For the second year in a row, they’ve captured first place at the Hopkinsville Invitational, the Candy Cane Classic and the city-county meet — and head coach Brad Schmied is hoping the second half of the season goes just as well.
“The team has picked up from last year’s record-breaking season and continued with an impressive winning streak,” he said. “Our goal is to have another strong showing at regionals with several top-two automatic state qualifier finishes across multiple events.”
Schmied said his roster continues to grow every year as each team reaches new heights.
“Last year’s success allowed us to increase the overall number of athletes on our team this year,” he said. “Each year I hope the previous year’s success attracts athletes to our program.”
A strong group of six long-time swimmers make up the nucleus of this year’s team — Julia Smith (sprint freestyle), Samantha Phillips (butterfly, distance freestyle), Addison Callis (breaststroke, individual medley), Abby Warren (sprint freestyle, breaststroke, diving), Paige Neal (sprint freestyle) and Kara Bane Luckett (sprint, middle distance freestyle).
“Julia and Samantha bring leadership and the most experience to the team, while Addison and Paige bring consistency in performance from meet to meet,” Schmied said. “Kara is our most versatile athlete and routinely swims different events depending on where the scoring can benefit the team the most.”
Warren’s ability to post top finishes both as a swimmer and diver make her a versatile asset for OHS.
“Abby may be our most unique athlete in that she has qualified for state diving the last three years, all while being one of the state’s top 12 swimmers in several events,” Schmied said. “I don’t know of anyone else in the state who competes at such an elite level in both diving and swimming.”
Other top contributors are Darby Haire, Sydney Cundiff, Kinleigh Miller and Georgia Warren, as well as newcomers Whitley Ford, Zoie Sowders and Kiara Hite.
“Each athlete has greatly improved over the course of the season and significantly helped the success of the team this year,” Schmied said.
Schmied said the overall success for the girls’ program is largely a direct result of the hard work they’ve put in both as individuals and as a team.
“We have been lucky to have such a high caliber of athletes over the last few seasons,” he said. “For our program to be successful, each athlete needs to train hard at practice every day. Swimming is a very individualized team sport, meaning each athlete needs to improve their individual skill set. In turn, it helps the team’s overall success.”