Warriors swim team gaining momentum as season wears on

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The Socorro swim season is in more than full swing at this point in 2013, and at about the halfway mark head coach Deidra Vinson and her squad are heading in a positive direction.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: Hanson Oxford is the lone senior on a young but experienced boys team that head coach Diedra Vinson describes as “good” as well as “strong.”

The girls so far have recorded team finishes of fifth place at the Tiger-Jaguar Invite in November and seventh place at the Los Alamos Invite in December. They also have their first state qualifier in senior Charli Gonzales.

On the young but experienced boys side, the Warriors also took fifth at the Tiger-Jaguar Invite, sixth place at the Peter B. Barney Memorial Relays and sixth at the Los Alamos Invite.

Those all equate to solid finishes, but Socorro is still a team working on improving as the long season wears on, and they should be even better by year’s end. At the halfway point, Vinson said her team was already on the up and up.

“They have steadily improved, and over winter break I saw drastic improvement,” she said. “Some kids dropped a lot of time, just from the summer season until now.”

And that summer season is undoubtedly an important cog in the machinery of Socorro swimming. Many of the kids who swim for the high school team have been with Vinson for several years in the Stingrays summer program. They have a feel for the program, how it works and they understand how they need to approach the sport in order to improve.

“At the beginning of every year, swimmers set goals and I constantly remind them of that,” Vinson said. “You set this goal, and I will help you get there. I think some of them have already exceeded those goals they set for themselves.”

A theme with this year’s swimmers though, regardless of how experienced they may be in a pool, will be how young the team looks on paper. Still, Socorro looks like it has a good opportunity to send a number of swimmers to the state championships.

The girls are getting closer to qualifying in the medley relay and the boys, even if they don’t qualify, could break the high school record. It might just be a matter of getting the team to understand that.

“This year I really believe whatever four (girls) make it, I’ve told them I’m starting to believe that they’re getting fast,” Vinson said. The ultimate success for the season is qualifying.

“On the boy’s side, of course I keep saying they’re young, but they’re good and they are strong. And of course as a coach you wish that they would see that. You wish that they would embrace that more than they do.”

A historically consistent program points to the team indeed embracing their level of talent, and Vinson also has a new aspect to compliment her coaching in assistant coach Cory Smith.

“She was a real shot in the arm,” Vinson said. “She was able to come in, write some workouts and the kids really liked them because it was different. She knows what she’s doing. She’s a great assistant.”

Socorro has four regular-season meets left in the season, then the district championships on Feb. 16. State takes place in Albuquerque on Feb. 22-23. If it keeps on its current path, the team should likely have more qualifiers by season’s end.

“We have a very young team this year. As far as the older kids, they’re keeping consistent and we have a real shot of doing well in the second part of our season,” Vinson said. “These kids coming in have more previous experience than in years past. They’re coming into their own with the program.”

Socorro will compete this Saturday at Albuquerque Academy, then head to Los Lunas for a meet at Isleta Pool on Jan. 26.