A late change in the schedule has resulted in the Perry swimmers finding themselves in action two days sooner than expected, as the Jayettes will join Des Moines North Tuesday in a double dual at Des Moines Hoover. Perry will then join Algona for a double-dual at Des Moines Lincoln Thursday, with both meets beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Perry will receive a break after the hectic start to their season, and will not see action for the third time until traveling with Algona to Boone on September 8. The road trips will continue uninterrupted for three more meets before Perry finally competes in their own pool when Indianola visits the McCreary Community Building Sept. 24.
“Because of the invitationals we compete at the schedule is never going to equal out, and there is never going to be an invitational (because the MCB pool does not have eight lanes) in our pool,” veteran head coach Jean Dowd said. “That is OK, because we have gotten used to being away from home in September. The advantage with being on the road so much at the start of the year is having four of our final seven meets, including the last two, at home.
“One of the things I know the girls like about the schedule this year is that they swim on the Tuesday of Homecoming week (Perry will host Des Moines East September 29) but they have the day before and day after off,” Dowd said. “That has not always been the case and they were thrilled when they figured it out this year.”
While moving the Des Moines Hoover up from September 15 will effect the schedule somewhat, by far the biggest change impacting the Jayettes this season is the addition of three swimmers to the roster.
Dowd’s squad looked as if it was hanging on for dear life in terms of roster size, as senior Haileigh Kenyon, junior Haley Vaughn and sophomores Breanna Penenger and Vivian Gonzalez were the only swimmers due to return. All four did, but they will now be joined by sophomores Breanna Ackerman and Sadee Whitfield, with freshman Anna Ridnour also new to the team.
The rules limit each swimmer to a maximum of two individual and two relay events per meet; or, if so desired, the swimmer can compete in one individual and three relay events. Meets that do not involve diving begin with a 200 medley relay (backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle), 200 free, 200 individual medley, 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free, 500 free, 200 free relay, 100 back, 100 breast and 400 relay.
“All of last year we were unable to swim in the 400 relay at the end of meets,” Dowd said while discussing the limitations squad size imposed on Perry last year. “That had a negative emotional effect, too, because here we are just standing there watching the other teams compete and score points and there was nothing we could do about it. Having the additional girls this year means we will be swimming the 400 relay and our girls are excited about it.”
Each Jayette has experience swimming on the Perry Summer Swim Team, with Gonzalez, Penenger and Vaughn also having competed last winter in the Greater Iowa Swim League. Kenyon, Vaughn and Whitfield also serve as lifeguards at the MCB.
Kenyon, the lone senior, specializes in the 50 and 200 free races, while fellow captain Vaughn as swam in both the 50 and 100 free but prefers the 100 breaststroke and the 200 IM. Both are mainstays on relays.
Gonzalez favors the 100 backstroke and swims the 50 free as well as on relays.
Dowd said Penenger — whose favorite event is the 500 free — was the Jayette most excited about seeing the roster nearly double in size.
“It means she doesn’t have to turn right around and swim the 200 relay after just getting out of the water from the 500 free and she is thrilled about that,” the coach laughed. “She will swim the 200 free and two relays for us, but not having a 50 free sprint leg right after the 500 is something she was hoping for.”
The duties for Ackerman, Ridnour and Whitfield have yet to be determined, but Dowd was sure they would include both individual and relay duties.
“I am enjoying have to go through the trouble of actually having to think about what our lineup will look like,” Dowd said. “We still have some tweaking to do. Our medley relay will have Vaughn swimming the breaststroke and Kenyon will anchor in the free, but who the backstroke and fly legs will be is still an open question. Once we get set with that it should clear up a few other races.”
Dowd said the experience of Kenyon and Vaughn has been invaluable.
“Both of our captains have really been good about helping the lesser-experienced girls know what is expected of them,” the coach noted. “They set a good example and have helped form us into a close team. Now, with the changes this year, they might even be a little more excited than normal for the season to start. I am eager to see what all seven of our girls can do.”