‘We’re having fun, and it shows in the pool’


Grace McKinney 500 free

Jeff Maydak | For The Times-Post

PENDLETON — The Pendleton Height girls and boys swimming and diving team had a busy week playing host to Greenfield-Central and participating in the Shelbyville Relays.

At Shelbyville Dec. 11, the girls placed second behind Columbus East with 112 points, just six points off the lead and set two meet records, while the boys tied for sixth place.

In the 800 freestyle relay, the team of Clara McIntyre, Sophie Kaster, Mallory Gentry and Grace McKinney finished first with a new meet record.

Another record was set in the 400 freestyle relay with the winning team of Jaima Link, Gentry, Kaster and McKinney.

The Arabians also took first in the 150 breaststroke relay with Catherine Dudley, Ellie Ray and Ella Dixon.

In the boys relays, Jacob Simpson, Kyle Kemper, Ian Christian and Jackson Ragan took first in the 200 medley relay.

In a Dec. 9 meeting with Greenfield-Central, the boys finished with an 89-89 tie, while the girls fell 97-89.

For the girls, it was the first dual meet loss since 2016, which was also at the hands of the Cougars.

Despite the loss, Coach Amanda Safford had nothing but praise for her swimmers.

“Greenfield is always tough,” Safford said. “We knew they were going to bring it, but I’m incredibly pleased and impressed with both the girls and boys.”

While the loss for the girls stung, McKinney shined, winning two individual events and was a member of two winning relay teams.

McKinney began the night taking the 200-yard freestyle by more than 6 seconds from her Greenfield-Central opponent.

In the 500 free, McKinney produced a 14-second win margin over second place.

“She is phenomenal,” Safford said. “She’s consistently on her times and a great encourager to everyone.”

Recently named a team captain, McKinney still smiled through the team loss.

“Everyone encouraging each other is really part of our team culture. We’re having fun, and it shows in the pool.”

In the relays, the team of Dixon, Gentry, Kaster and McKinney dominated the 200-yard freestyle relay, while in the 400-yard freestyle relay, Link, Gentry, Kaster and McKinney overtook the Cougar team for first.

With McKinney swimming the anchor leg in the 400, she went into the pool with the Arabians holding a slim .06 lead and finished the race with a lead of almost three seconds.

Maddie Heineman won the one-meter diving with 174.50.

For the boys, Christian won the 50 and 100 freestyles. Jacob Simpson led the Arabians in two events, winning both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.

“The boys depth is good, and this is a good indication of what they’re capable of,” Safford said. “Ian is one to watch. He’s exciting and on the brink of good drops and great things.”

The Arabians paced the 200 medley relay with Simpson, Kemper, Christian and Cayman Craft. Christian, Simpson, Craft and Evan McKinney won the 200 freestyle relay.

Safford said she would like to have more swimmers in the future and sees areas for improvement, but overall, she’s a happy coach.

“This is a good experience, and we can hold our heads high,” she said.


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