EHS swim team looks to build exposure

Enterprise High School swimmers with head coach Sarah Thorn (kneeling).

In another season for the Enterprise High School swim team, the Wildcats are adding local competition and looking to build exposure for the program.

Head coach Sarah Thorn said the season started on Aug. 7 with practices. Swimmers will travel to their first competition on Sept. 20 in Panama City Beach, Florida.

EHS has actually had a swim team for several years, but the swimmers haven’t received much exposure for a number of reasons, not least of which is a lack of high school swimming programs to compete against in the immediate area.

Because of the lack of area competition, the swimmers compete under the banner of the Wiregrass Aquatics Club for a majority of the season. Currently, there are 51 swimmers in the WAC; over 20 of them are Enterprise students.

The swimmers compete at meets with the WAC to qualify for sectionals. WAC is part of USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States. According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association, swimmers are allowed to qualify for AHSAA-meets using USA-sanctioned times, AHSAA-sanctioned times or rec center meet times.

 “We have been a high school team that really isn’t part of the EHS athletic programs in the past until it comes to the turn of the season when sectionals start,” Thorn, who is also the WAC coach, said. “Our high school team has really been Wiregrass throughout the season and then we have tryouts for sectionals where the students compete under the EHS banner. This year, we’re trying to do more to represent the high school at high-school sanctioned meets and we’re trying to make this a little more visible to let people know that we have a team and we are a successful team.”

This season, the Wildcats will have an opportunity to represent EHS at two October meets -- strictly for high schools -- hosted by T.R. Miller and at the Westgate Pool in Dothan.  

Thorn said competing in the AHSAA events will help in building exposure for the high school’s swimming team.

While this is a step in the right direction, Thorn said, another issue has been the inability to host any home meets.

“Because we actually practice on Fort Rucker (as part of Wiregrass Aquatics Club), we don’t really have the ability to host meets,” Thorn said. “That’s why we’ve been very involved in efforts to build a community swimming pool in Enterprise, which would give us the ability to do that. When we host a swim meet as Wiregrass Aquatics Club, it brings in teams all across the region. We’re part of Southeastern Swimming -- including teams from Alabama, Northern Florida and Tennessee -- and the meets bring in people for an entire weekend of competition, and having something like that would obviously benefit businesses and hotels. We have frequent tournaments throughout the year.

“For the high school, it would give us a chance to host meets with other high school teams and bring recognition to the sport, to our athletes and to EHS athletics. We could also host meets more frequently as the high school, because the high school season is naturally busier.”

Thorn said she’s excited to coach a talented bunch of swimmers this year.

“We have a few that could make it to state this year, which would be spectacular,” she said. “These kids have been working hard. Some of have been swimming since they were seven, eight years old. They’ve dedicated themselves to this sport. It’s amazing to see the progress they’ve made. Swimming is very demanding and it’s hard, hard work. We just want people to know that these students are here and they deserve that visibility.”

Sectionals will be held in November.

Last year, 11 EHS swimmers competed at sectionals.

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