Decatur Swimdawgs adjust to new practice times

Senior+Torey+Brierley+rests+after+an+event.+Brierley+swims+with+a+year-round+club+team+in+addition+to+Decatur%2C+and+hopes+to+continue+swimming+in+college.

Senior Torey Brierley rests after an event. Brierley swims with a year-round club team in addition to Decatur, and hopes to continue swimming in college.

Maddie De Pree

This year, the Swimdawgs are diving into the pool at six a.m., four days a week.

This is an hour earlier than last season’s morning practices, which started at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The reason, says coach Tania Kane, is that the Agnes Scott College pool is booked in the afternoons for community use.

Kane, a former swimmer, remembers the pain of early morning practices.

“After I retired from swimming, I swore I would never swim in the morning again,” she said. “Years and years of morning practices made me feel as if I had paid my dues to the chlorine gods, and there was no way I would set foot on a pool deck at 6 a.m.”

She’s changed her stance since then, and even showed up to coach early-morning practices during a weeklong bout of bronchitis.

Kane also finds that the morning practices are boosting attendance. Most extracurriculars take place in the afternoon, so swimmers can make it to morning practice without schedule conflicts.

“As unappealing as morning practice was in the beginning, it has allowed more swimmers to get to swim practice regularly,” she said.

Despite early practice times, the team has more swimmers than ever this year, including a hardy group of middle schoolers.

“We have enough [Renfroe Middle School] kids practicing with the high school team that [Renfroe] will be able to have a competition team next year,” Kane said.

The Swimdawgs have even more good news. Senior Lisa Studstill, a varsity swimmer, recently signed the first Division 2 swim scholarship in Decatur history. She will be swimming for Converse College in South Carolina.

“Talmadge, [Lisa’s brother], was able to dress in the bulldog mascot costume at her signing,” Kane said. “That was fun.”

With times dropping every meet and 48 State cuts so far, Kane says the team’s season is off to a promising start. Maybe early practices aren’t such a bad thing after all.