By BENJAMIN BAUGH
The Charlotte Tarpons swim team enjoyed a successful campaign in 2018.
However, the complexion of this year’s roster has changed significantly with a number of athletes moving on. State champion Dylan Hacker, Carl Eisen, Josh Eaton and Casey Keller were all lost to graduation, leaving a void on the boys team, but James Rose, who rose to the occasion multiple times as a freshman returns to anchor the lineup, who make up for a lack of experience with an unwavering commitment and a contagious enthusiasm and exuberance. Hacker, Eisen, Eaton and Keller were all multiple state qualifiers and their absence will be felt greatly.
Those assuming the leadership roles on this year’s team will be an important part of any success, as their depth of knowledge and understanding of what to expect going forward will make a significant difference.
“It’s definitely a building year,” said Jeff Cain, Charlotte Tarpons swimming coach. “It’s what we can accomplish in the time to the end. We lost more key players than just those four.”
However, the girls roster features great depth, with Rylee Scribner and Karys Nelson being two of the critical components for this year’s Tarpons team. Diver Lindsey Akins is back, and a swimmer who was part of the Tarpons team two years ago has also returned, Grace Eaton, Josh Eaton’s sister, who went to the state meet her freshman year, in two individual events and a relay. Madison Hoffiius and Roxana Manta are two returnees who will also play a prominent role this fall.
“In another two years, we’re going to be deep and good,” said Cain. “We have some new kids on the team, we just need to get the experience. They’re not veterans at it, they’re young, they don’t know what to expect. I’ll do like I did last year and it worked, and we’ll do it again this year, we’ll build what we have and see what happens at the end. Last year, it paid off fairly well.”
The sport is a 52-week commitment and many of the Tarpons can be found in the pool competing for the Blue Fins during the offseason.
“The CCS program is still there, it’s still doing the same thing,” said Cain. “As a feeder program, that’s what we’re hoping that they keep bringing it in. The talent and the depth is coming. They’re young right now, they’re 11, 12, 13-years-old. They’re not here yet, in high school. They will be.”