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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton racing to win another region swimming title

Jan 05, 2024 11:53AM ● By Josh McFadden

The Riverton swim team has won multiple region titles in recent years and are favorites to win it again this season. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Powers)

For the Riverton High School swim team, winning region championships has become a habit. There’s no reason to expect it won’t happen again this year. 

The girls team has three region titles to its credit, while the boys are on a streak of three consecutive league crowns. Head coach Andrew Powers expects the success to continue. He also has his sights set on the state meet, where he is hopeful that the team will compete well with the top Class 6A schools. He is also optimistic that several of his swimmers will perform well. 

“It's always great to see both the boys and girls team win a region title at the same time,” he said. “Looking further past that, we are hoping to have our boys and girls team in the top five of the state and have quite a few swimmers bring home some top finishes at the state championship.”

The state championship meet is Feb. 23–24 at Brigham Young University. Last season, the girls placed fifth at state, while the boys were just outside the top five, finishing in sixth. 

Achieving these lofty goals will take nothing short of consistent effort and dedication. Swimmers already have a demanding schedule, but success requires this commitment. 

“The biggest thing to make this happen is to get the swimmers to the pool and practice,” Powers said. “It seems to be getting harder and harder to get ideal pool time to practice, so the more opportunities the kids get in the water, the better they will be. Right now, we are currently practicing Monday through Friday from 5 to 6:30 a.m. This is not the most ideal situation for anyone, especially teenagers, who sometimes get to bed at 11 p.m. or later after doing homework, jobs or other extracurricular activities.”

Powers has many leaders and top performers to turn to. 

Riverton’s captains are Aliyah Carranza, Faith Fox, Dylan Middaugh and Payton Hill, who have all been a part of the team since their freshman seasons. Junior Lucy Haymond is ranked in the top eight in the state in both the backstroke and butterfly. Sophomore Alexandra Lund is a top-eight swimmer in the state in the individual medley and 500-yard freestyle. Hill, a senior, is ranked in the top 10 in the individual medley and backstroke. In the butterfly and 500 free, junior Johnny Janzen is a top-10 ranked swimmer. 

“We do have many more swimmers who are ranked high in their races and are hoping to have them get closer to the top as we race at regions on Feb. 2 in Bountiful,” Powers said. 

Becoming a good swimmer requires much more than having natural talent. Powers said his top swimmers excel because of the incredible amount of work they put into their craft every day. Many top swimmers swim year-round, too. 

“Just like any champion in any sport, one of the ways that these swimmers get so good is by training hard,” he said. “Some of our swimmers also swim on a club team. That means they will swim with Riverton in the morning and then sometimes go to their club team in the afternoon for another two-hour practice. As I mentioned before, time in a pool is critical for a swimmer's success. You'll notice a pattern that the top swimmers in the state will take their workouts very seriously and train with a purpose every time they jump in the water, no matter if it is club, high school, age group or collegiate level.”

Assembling a group of student-athletes and getting them all on the same page can be challenging. Powers coaches many swimmers, all of whom have different personalities, attitudes and outlooks. But one thing you can expect from the Riverton swim team is a close-knit group of young men and young women that get along well. 

“One of the strengths of our teams is the level of caring and love that we have for each other,” Powers said. “When you are on the Riverton swim team, you feel like you belong. No one on our team is there to judge, bully or criticize. All of our swimmers cheer each other on, support one another and care. Many on the team have mentioned that they feel the swim team is their second family.” 

As for the team’s performance in the water, Powers is pleased with how the swimmers are doing. 

“One of our strengths in the pool is our taper,” he said. “Taper is a time leading up to a big competition where swimmers decrease their volume in practice and increase rest to prepare their bodies to give a personal record. Riverton's taper is unlike any other teams in the region or district. We achieve personal records that are mind-blowing and unbelievable unless you were there to see for yourself.”

One of the biggest challenges Powers and his team faces is finding suitable practice times and fitting all his swimmers into one venue. The Silverwolves contend with limited practice space and have been working out at the Draper Recreation Center. However, only five lanes are available, so Powers has to figure out how to get everyone into the pool.

“We just do what we can with the situation we are in and teach the kids that although it's not what we want, we don't live in a perfect world and so we make the best of what we got,” he said. 

Though Powers spends a considerable amount of his time coaching Riverton—10 hours a week of practice for 20 weeks as well as four hours a week for meets—he loves his job. He enjoys watching the swimmers achieve goals, improve and learn lessons. He has seen growth not just in the pool but in swimmers’ lives in general. 

“It is hard not to care about your team,” he said. “I know their goals, I know their times, I know their character, and I want to see them succeed–not just in the pool but also in life. I have been the head coach for Riverton for eight years, and it is always a special treat when I get to see former swimmers and see how they have grown up. Some have already gotten married and had babies. I do think of my swimmers as some of my best friends, and they will always have a special place in my heart. I hope that I get the chance to stay connected to as many of them as possible.” λ