The Highland Splash swim team hits the water this summer with the goal of repeating as champions of the Midwest Swim Conference after last summer laying claim to their first ever conference crown in the 36-year history of the program.
Highland returns all four its coaches from last season and all four are former Splash swimmers. Leading the way again are co-head coaches Alex Rinderer and Ryan Poss.
Joel Mason and Abby Rinderer return as the assistant coaches for the Splash, who are scheduled to begin the 2016 summer season Tuesday, June 14 at the O’Fallon Breakers.
The Splash should be even more loaded with depth than last year’s history-making squad. This year’s team currently boasts about 140 swimmers and it is not out of the question that the number could reach as high as 145 to 150.
“It is really hard to find a weak spot in our lineup,” Alex Rinderer said. “We expect to go against O’Fallon and win another conference championship! Our common goal is create depth which in turn lead us to our first championship. We have a ton of depth in each age group which is awesome because we are able to score more points having six to eight good swimmers in an age group compared to two to three great swimmers who score just the top points. Overall, we are looking really good for this swim season.”
Starting with the 8 and under girls, the coaching staff has many unknown swimmers that they are able to develop pretty quickly and they end up being really great swimmers by the time the the Midwest Swim Conference Meet, the season’s grand finale rolls around. The season-ending all-star event is slated for July 23 at O’Fallon.
“We are bringing back our top two 8 and under boys for the entire conference,” Alex Rinderer said of Tucker Stephens and Sean McGinley, who return to the age group they dominated a year ago. “They are neck and neck the whole season and push each other during each race. It is great to watch Sean and Tucker race.”
Leading the way for the girls ages 8 and under are Natalie Chalfant, Kallie Hubbard, Emily Geisen and Ceyenna Gutzler.
Highland’s 9-10 age division is also very solid and has a lot of depth. Rinderer said this age group features kids who have been swimming for quite some time and still are able to swim a 25 and dominate.
Some of the best 9-10 girls are Bailey Wells, Abby Chalfant, Ella Drysdale, Ellie Sitton, Sophia Nonn and Jackie Barkus, while the top boys in the age group are Ryan Tolbert, Ryan Schlechte, Ethan Schmidt and Masyn Smith.
Another deep age group is the 11-12 girls, which should be headed by Madeleine Schmidt. Caroline Foppe, Taryn Stephens and Rylee Sitton are also strong girls in this age group.
“Our 11-12 girls are extremely deep,” Rinderer said. “Many of them are doing winter swim so they are used to swimming 50s, have really practiced their flip turns, and are at the point where they understand all the components of each stroke. There are so many girls in this age group that are strong that we will have girls swimming more point races. The 11-12 boys are also solid.”
Topping the 11-12 boys should be Camden Runge, Gabe Smith, Galen Kohlbrecher, Javier DeLaCruz and Patrick McGinley.
The 13-14 girls and boys are those swimmers who are sticking it out with the program while in many cases having other sports/activities contending for their time. Trey Stephens, Ben Walter and Ethan Drysdale will be some of the top boys in this age group while Nora Thiems, Chloe Marti and Tess Korte will be solid on the girls side.
“They do winter swim and are really great swimmers so this age group is also solid,” Rinderer said.
Rinderer said the 15-18 girls and boys are also solid, but there is not that many of them.
“These kids have stuck it out all these years and have become awesome swimmers,” she said. “Many of our older swimmers plan on swimming in college and they will be awesome. We have some older swimmers who made it to Nationals this year and some other swimmers who will definitely make Nationals next year. This is a huge accomplishment.”
Qualifying for Nationals this year were the sensational sibling duo of Ben Thomae and Victoria Thomae.
Other strong 15-18 boys are Gunnar Kohlbrecher and Dylan Galbiati while two top 15-18 girls are Alyssa Freimann and Madi Walter.
2016 Highland Splash Summer Swim Team Schedule
Tuesday, June 14 at O’Fallon Breakers
Thurday, June 16 at Dupo Hilltoppers
Tuesday, June 21 Home vs. Kingspoint Stingrays
Thursday, June 23 Home vs. Trenton Torpedoes
Tuesday, June 28 Home vs. Freeburg Waves
Thursday, June 30 at Dorchester Dolphins
Thursday, July 7 at St. Clair Country Club
Tuesday, July 12 Home vs. Westhaven
Thursday, July 14 Home vs. Scott Air Force Base Sharks
Saturday, July 23 Midwest Swim Conference Meet at O’Fallon