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The City Journals

These Cats Can Swim: Bengal’s Swimming Starts Season With A Splash

Oct 27, 2016 04:11PM ● By Sarah Almond

By Sarah Almond | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights

The Brighton High School swim team is back in pool and looking forward to a season of team building, working hard and breaking records. 

“It’s always exciting to be going again,” head coach Todd Etherington said. “It’s always a wait-and-see kind of a thing in terms of what the teams is going to look like.” 

So far, Etherington says the team is looking good. Just around 90 students showed up for the first day of practice on October 3, many of whom are new to the swim team. 

“I’ve got a fair number of kids returning, but I’ve also got a fair number of brand new kids too,” Etherington said. “I’ve got a young man who is a senior (who) has come out for the first time, which is always pretty cool when older kids decide to do that.”

Though the team welcomed several freshmen to the team this year, Etherington said he was pleasantly surprised to see a decent amount of sophomores and juniors come out too. 

“I think our girls team is going to be pretty competitive this season,” Etherington said. “And I’ve got some great boys with a lot of potential.” 

The Bengals spend nearly 10 hours each week training as a coed group both in and out of the pool, but when it comes time to compete, boy and girls are scored separately. While Etherington has high hopes for the girls team this season, it’s the boys who have a reputation to uphold. 

“We took eight boys to the state meet last year, and three of the boys on our relay team graduated,” Etherington said. “So there’s definitely a little bit of a hole, but I’ll be relying on those guys from last year to really step up.” 

Last season Brighton’s relay team of Brock Harries, Jack Binder, Parker Wiest and Brian O’Neal won the men’s 200-yard freestyle relay and broke the state record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:34.71 — exactly 1.12 that the previous state record set by Brighton in 2011. 

Jack is the only returning swimmer from last year’s winning relay team. Etherington is hoping that Jack and other returning swimmers will help bring an element to the team that has been lacking in recent years: leadership.

“We’re trying to put a bigger emphasis on leadership in general,” Etherington said. “More so than in previous years I think this year’s senior class is more interested in helping to lead the team and make the team better rather than just being a part of something.” 

Last year, Etherington chose not to have team captains because he wasn’t fond of the political process. This year, however, he has chosen to elect team captains in hopes of exemplifying and encouraging a leadership culture. 

“We didn’t do captains last year and that was a mistake,” Etherington said. “I missed having people I knew I could lean on, and when we didn’t have designated captains it was very hard to go lean on a couple of kids to try and get things done because there was no expectation on their part. So I decided to do a little application process this year.” 

Etherington created a 10-question application that seniors could complete if they wished to be captain and then held interviews with prospective candidates. 

“They had to come interview with myself, one of our current parents and a former swimmer,” Etherington said. “It’s looking like we’re going to have about eight solid captains by the time it’s all said and done.” 

In selecting captains this way, Etherington hopes to better prepare seniors for the interview process they’ll likely undergo when applying for colleges or jobs after graduation. He also feels like this process is beneficial in establishing a foundation for a supportive and unified team culture. 

“Overall I’m just really looking forward to growing and building together as a team,” Etherington said. “We’ve already got a few boys and a few girls who are doing an amazing job encouraging each and I just hope it keeps growing like that.”