A season that was thought to be a rebuilding year ended with a twist: a fourth consecutive win for the girls swim team in the APS championship and a second place title for the boys. It was a battle from the first buzzer to the last, with the girls team defeating North Atlanta only by one point, with a final score of 697-696. The boys team took a substantial loss to North Atlanta with a score of 776-568.
Many of the Grady swimmers qualified for the state meet which took place on Feb. 4. The individual event qualifiers were Melissa Brown, Morgan Watkins, Lindsay Schroeder, and Max Nevins, and the relay qualifiers are Nell Kropp, Selena Kleber, Storm Wright, Sophia Palomino, Christian Martin, Andrew Beamon, Sebastian Gerz-Escandon, Isaiah Davis, and Jack Labadia.
Max Nevins became the second male ever at Grady to place in the state meet, taking home the title of eighteenth in the 200 free, and setting a record score for Grady at 1:47.95. Prior to this year the girls swim teams highest place was forty-sixth, but this year they took twentieth place out of ninety-eight team. Melissa Brown placed fourth in the 50 free and Lindsey Schroeder placed 12th in the 200 IM, another Grady record.
Brad Hodges is going on his fourth year as swim coach at Grady and helped the team flourish as the season progressed. He works alongside head coach John Rives who has led the team for six years.
Despite Hodge’s two children graduating and finishing their swimming careers at Grady, he has stuck with the program and continued to be there at every practice.
“Despite it being very time-consuming, I feel like it’s a great way to give back to our community – and I really like working the swimmers and Mr. Rives, the head coach,” Hodges said.
This year’s team made Grady history, with both girls and boys teams taking home sixth place at the Riverwood meet. This is the first time Grady has ever even made top ten at this meet, and Rives looks upon this as the highlight of the season.
Captain Melissa Brown is one of the best sprinters in the state and through her dedication to the team has won the love and respect from her team members. Brown placed third in the state last year. This year when she competed in the APS championship she took home the first place title in the Girls 50 yard free with a time of 24.96.
“[Brown] is very good captain because even though she was injured this year she still came to every practice and supported and motivated us,” sophomore swimmer, Selena Kleber said.
The team this year came in at a slight disadvantage due to the loss of all the seniors from the previous year.
“It’s was a bit of a rebuilding year. Last year’s senior class was the strongest to have come through Grady. On the other hand, we have some rookies this year who are on their way to establishing themselves as stars,” Hodges said.
There is no pool on campus available for swim practice to occur, so the team loses precious practice time driving across town. For the majority of the season the team was driving all the way to Washington park pool three days a week. Coach Hodges worried that this loss would put them at risk for the APS championship, against current rival North Atlanta.
“Well, the cards were stacked against us, but I was hopeful. While we have lost numbers, North Atlanta has nearly doubled in size compared to last year. They have a poo very close to their school and are able to practice more often – and more conveniently,” Hodges said.
As the 2017 swim season comes to a close, coaches and athletics say goodbye not only to the season but to valuable players. Brown will be a huge loss for the girls team, but Hodges sees a future for her in college.
“Melissa will absolutely swim in college,” Hodges said, “I also suspect that junior Max Nevins and underclassmen Lindsay Schroeder both will swim in college as well, at the D1 level if they choose to.”