While the state and country can’t close the door on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon girls swim team has seen an increase in numbers after a shortened season last spring.
Oregon has 17 girls on the team and several freshmen who have swam competitively ready to make a splash.
Justin Sawran takes over as the new Oregon girls swim coach. He also coaches the Oregon boys swim team. He replaces former coach Michael Keleny.
“Overall, we have girls who can swim multiple styles and events,” Sawran said. “We just have to figure out the best combination. We have so many new faces. I’m hoping to develop a culture. We have some girls back who want to break school records and return to state.”
The Panthers qualified their 200-yard freestyle and 200 medley relays for state last year. Oregon returns half of its 200 free relay team — senior Brooke White and junior Noelle Marsh that took 16th at state last spring in the alternate fall season. The only swimmer back that swam on the medley relay at state is Marsh.
Sawran said White and Marsh are leaders on the team because of their speed and experience as swimmers.
Junior teammate Jane Ciambrone is experienced competing in the 100 backstroke and 100 free.
In the sectional last spring, senior Lily Gebauer took 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.83) and Marsh placed 13th in the same event (1:18.97).
Oregon graduated several veteran swimmers in the spring, including Zoe Rule, a state qualifier and school record holder in the 100 butterfly (59.43 seconds).
One former letterwinner back is senior Claudia Schwartz, who competed in club swimming last year, and swam on the Panthers’ 200 relay that took 20th at the WIAA DIvision 1 state meet as a sophomore in 2019. She owned the butterfly school record until Rule broke it last season.
Schwartz is also a long distance swimmer who will excel in the 200 and 500 free. “She wants to get the school record back in the butterfly,” Sawran said. “If she can do that I think she can qualify for state.”
Two other long distance swimmers who will be featured in the 200 and 500 free are freshmen Katie Dunn and Kailey Kochan.
Sawran said it will be nice to have depth in distance events.
He said another event that will be a strength is the butterfly.
“There will be a lot of competition in that event,” he said of the butterfly.
Madison Edgewood, which has won six straight state championships, won the alternate fall title over larger schools like runner-up Middleton and third-place Sun Prairie.
Sawran said by virtue of winning state, Edgewood is the favorite to win the Badger West Conference championship.
Oregon was scheduled to swim in the McFarland Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21. The Panthers will then swim in a quad meet at Madison Edgewood on Tuesday, Aug. 31 and at the Stoughton Relays on Thursday, Sept. 2. Oregon will host Monroe in its first home meet on Tuesday, Sept. 7.