By John DeCoste
A number of talented returning swimmers have Kentville Marlins head coach Shauna Manning optimistic for the 2012 season.
Manning enters her seventh season with the Marlins in 2012, her sixth as head coach. Her former assistant, Mary Claire Lynch, has moved on to a job with Swim Nova Scotia, but former Marlin Zack Pate has signed on as assistant coach.
“Last season ended well,” Manning said, adding that she was “very happy with the results our swimmers had.” Moreover, she can “already see the swimmers from last year have improved and have become stronger. I have no doubt they will have big time improvements this season.”
Leading the way, in Manning’s opinion, is Isaac Payne. The 13-year-old is the club record holder in the 50-metre breaststroke and “ended last season amazingly,” including a gold medal win in 50 breast at provincials.
“I’m definitely excited to see how Isaac does this season,” Manning said. “He is a very talented swimmer, with lots of motivation and dedication.”
Other returning swimmers include Chantel Graves, Noah Graves, Ethan Payne, Dominique Dawson, Danielle Dawson, Madison Johnstone, Adam Dorrance and Lucas Dorrance.
Manning is looking for solid seasons from them all. All these swimmers “have a lot to bring to the team in terms of experience,” she says, “and are all good role models for our younger swimmers.”
For a second year in a row, the Marlins’ ranks have been bolstered by the addition of a former Wolfville Tritons swimmer. Last year, it was Kaily Schofield, and this year, Tanisha Bezanson. Bezanson, Manning suggests, “is going to play a big role on the team as a senior swimmer and role model, and also in terms of her own results.”
As well, the Marlins have a lot of our younger swimmers returning and also some new, younger Marlins.
Manning sees the younger swimmers as “the future of the team. It’s good to see they are enjoying it, and that we have more joining.”
She admits, “I love working with the younger swimmers. I like seeing the progress they make throughout the season, and how much they improve. I always find it surprising just how much information they really do absorb.”
Overall, Manning is looking forward to a good season.
“I know we’re going to have some good results, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all the swimmers do.”
Manning feels she is ”very lucky” to have had the Marlins coaching job for so long.
“I work with such an amazing group of kids who are constantly surprising me.”
She also praised the Marlins’ parents and executive.
“Our parents are some of the nicest people I know,” she said. “I really don’t know where we would be without such an amazing executive team. They’re truly what keeps us running smoothly.”
The Marlins opened their relatively short season June 30, with their first meet scheduled for July 14. Kentville will host its annual meet Sunday, July 29, one of a total of eight meets leading up to provincials Aug. 17-19 in Digby.