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'Small team but huge depth,' Mariner swim ready for league competition

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Only six points separated the Marine City and St. Clair girls swim teams Thursday night in an exciting early-season meet.

“It was so exciting,” Mariners head coach Sarah Blackstock said. “I literally had goosebumps through eight of the 12 races, they were so close.”

The Marine City girls swim team celebrates after a victory Thursday night. (Courtesy | Lisa Pettinger)

The Mariners finished first with 96 points on the night while St. Clair finished with 90. Neither team is large in number, each with less than 20 swimmers, but their talent and depth made for a night of solid non-conference competition.

“It was high energy all around. I told them before the meet that it was going to be super close, and that it would come down to placements and who won the relays, so they were all pretty hyped up throughout the meet,” Blackstock said. “Everyone was either cheering on the sides or on the ends for every single race.”

Even the fans surrounding the pool in the stands were on their feet, cheering for their favorite swimmers, Blackstock said.

The Mariners won the first event – the 200-yard medley relay – as Abigail Pettinger, Molly Beaker, Jaqueline Northrup, and Morgan Thomas raced to a finish of 2 minutes, 26.27 seconds, edging the Saints team of Ava Betcher, Audrey Cole, Reese Kulman, and Alyssa Schafer who finished in 2:29.88.

The Saints would sweep the following two relays, however, as Betcher, Cole, Mya Bacon, and Lily Hack won the 200-yard free in 2:07.61 and Kulman, Bacon, Hack, and Cailyn Hutton won the 400-yard free in 4:57.27.

St. Clair’s divers also earned a bulk of the points as Alyssa Schafer (154.95 points), Grace Albrecht (131.0), and Betcher (111.55) swept the top three spots. This left a lot of pressure on the Mariners in the individual events, but Blackstock said many rose to the occasion.

Notably, Marine City swept the 100-yard fly, which Blackstock said was unexpected, as Northrup, Morgan Thomas, and Layla Thomas finished in 1:24.08, 1:31.65, and 1:32.00, respectively.

The St. Clair and Marine City teams cheer alongside the pool during Thursday's meet. (Courtesty | Brian Guzowski)

“I thought [St. Clair] would take first and we’d take second, third, and fifth, so going 1-2-3 was just incredible,” Blackstock said. “That was a very good swim from [Layla Thomas]. She’s very competitive, she basically just out-touched her.”

Layla Thomas had secured her third-place finish over St. Clair’s Kulman by just 0.15 seconds.

Another notable Mariner performance came from Beaker in the 200-yard IM. After helping her 200 medley relay to a first-place finish, Beaker went on to swim a personal best in the 200 IM, winning in 2:57.15. Her seed time was 3:07.

“She really just took it to heart [that placement would be crucial] and dropped 10 seconds in that event and was way out front,” Blackstock said.

Beaker won over St. Clair’s Cole, who finished second in 3:04.31.

For the Mariners, who compete in the MAC-Gold, claiming a victory like this over St. Clair, which competes in the MAC-White, gives them a boost of confidence heading into league competition next week.

“It’s really good to have a win like that in the beginning of the season. It shows we can swim against the faster teams,” Blackstock said. “Going into our league, [the teams] are larger than us. We’ve got a small team but huge depth, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Marine City will start conference competition against Lamphere next Thursday, Sept. 22, on the road starting at 6 p.m. St. Clair will also begin conference competition next week on the road against Fraser on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m.

“I think our biggest competition is going to be Lamphere, so we're really gearing up for that and working hard,” Blackstock said.

Click below for full results of the meet:

9_15 Swim Results
Download PDF • 66KB

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