Just Add Water; The girls swim team is determined to keep achieving this season


Riley Harris

Seniors Fiona Webster (left), Reece Vess, Grace Steck, Abby Rock, Sloane Lawson and Brianna Connell all pose together during senior night.

The swimmers line up in their lanes and prepare to mount their starting blocks. There are so many things to focus on at once; the daunting black line and the breathing. The starter commands, “swimmers, take your marks,” the whistle blows, and they’re off. The sound of splashing echoes through the pool and the cheering families and teammates can be heard even under the water.
Pete Hill, head coach of boys and girls swimming and diving at Nixa and Kickapoo, has been coaching for about 20 years overall. So far this season, Hill is impressed with his team’s success individually and as a team.
“This is one of the best teams I have coached from a standpoint of teamwork,” Hill said. “It carries over from last year and their bond as a team.”
Though swimming is an individual sport, the girls value teamwork and work hard to boost each other, not only at meets, but in every aspect of their life.
Sophomore Ellie Turnbull has been swimming in a league since she was 7 years old and has loved it ever since. Turnbull especially enjoys the competitiveness of swimming, but specifically how connected the team is, not only through Nixa, but also with the Kickapoo team that they practice and travel with.
Hill works hard to encourage all of his swimmers to strive for their best and the girls appreciate him and their teammates being there for them in every stroke.
“[I] whistle very loudly,” Hill said. “I try to always show them the positive in every win. If they have a bad one, I still point out what went well and how to learn from the bad.”
Turnbull is especially appreciative of the support from her coaches and her teammates that she’s grown close to. Over this past winter break, a tragedy hit the Turnbull family when her father died in his fight against colon cancer.
“[Especially] being that I’m in the middle of my swim season,” Turnbull said. “Through this all my teammates, coaches, family and friends have rallied around myself and family. They have been so amazing and supportive of me during this very difficult time.”
The Nixa and Kickapoo teams wear T-shirts to all of their meets in honor of Turnbull’s dad, and Hill even purchased blue swim caps for colon cancer awareness.
“This year I have dedicated my swim season to my dad. #MattsArmy,” Turnbull said.
The team shows how strong they can be when they work hard and truly act as a family.
Senior Sloane Lawson has been swimming competitively for eight years and said she has gained a lot from her time swimming on the team.
“[Swim] requires people to push you, to root for you, and to applaud your successes,” Lawson said. “Over the last four years I’ve been so blessed with a team I love and a team that loves me. Swim is too hard to do without people you enjoy, and my teammates have made swim one of the best experiences of my high school career.”
The girls swim team has had several achievements in the past. In the last year both individual swimmers and relays qualified for state. Several of the girls were also awarded medals during these meets.
This season, several girls have made strong achievements with several swimmers qualifying for state. The 200 and 400 relay team is made up of Turnbull, Lawson, freshman Payge Plank and junior Ellie Jett.