Middle, high school swim starts this week

Karoline Ponder swims in 2017.

TIFTON — No trick, swim fans, Tift County has a treat this afternoon.

Middle school swimmers get started with a meet at 4 p.m. at the local YMCA pool. Joining this opening competition, said high school coach Ivey Vickers, are Lee County, Jeff Davis and Coffee.

Vickers expects a good season for the middle school, which has several returnees to the roster. They just have to remember Wednesday, she joked, that Halloween candy is to be eaten after the meet and not before.

On the high school front, Tift County will make its season debut Saturday morning at Camden County.

“So far, everything’s great,” said Vickers. Even the weather.

The weather might matter a little less this year. With the exception of perhaps the Last Chance Meet in January, Tift won’t have another true high school home meet. That includes in indoor facilities, too.

Vickers said she could not get a date set up with Albany State for the annual Blue Devil Invitational. They will be at the Darton campus Jan. 12, 2019, as part of Lee County Trojan Invitational. The schedule does have a few other changes.

“We’re just trying to get some different meets,” said Vickers.

To that end, the Swim Devils will be going to Atlanta twice: the Madeleine Jude Brown Invitational Meet of Champions at Marist Dec. 15 and the Lambert Invitational on Jan. 5. Other meets this year include at Thomas County Central Nov. 16, the Dean Ferrell Invitational in Thomasville Dec. 1 and the Coffee Trojan Invitational Dec. 8.

Tift won’t have its full roster for Saturday. Vickers said she was missing athletes from football, cross country and cheerleading. Football, expected to make the state tournament, finishes the regular season Friday. Cross country’s state finals are Saturday. Cheerleading’s state tournament ends a week later.

“If we can survive this week,” she said, the team should be in good shape.

Vickers said she’s hopeful of repeating as region champions this season. That is usually a safe bet; Tift’s boys and girls have swept the competition the past four years. Region will be back in Douglas and South Georgia State and is set for Jan. 18.

State is scheduled for Georgia Tech Feb. 7-9. For the first time during Vickers’ tenure as head coach, Tift County swimmers qualified for the final round last year. Eleven made it out of the preliminaries to the championship round. Beau Bengston had the best overall finish of those, finishing 11th in the 100 butterfly.

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