All for one and one for all. And one for one and all for all.
Bay County swimmers work together all year as teammates on the Panama City Swim Team, but they compete against each other as members of their respective high schools, too. Such is the case today when the county swim meet is held at the Frank Brown Park Aquatic Center beginning at noon.
Perhaps more so than in any other sport, there is a sense of universal encouragement and camaraderie among swimmers as they improve with age and strain to post faster times. There may be school pride at work today, but ultimately every swimmer wants to see his or her competitors swim at their best.
“They do,” Arnold coach Sara Patton said, noting her friendship with Rutherford coach Jennifer Morgan. “Whenever we travel, we travel with Rutherford. They get along great, and they all support each other. We went to Pensacola this last weekend, and we all rode together. They cheer for each other even though they swim against each other. They show that good sportsmanship. They shake hands after the race is over. It’s an ‘I’ve got to win and beat everybody’ type of mentality. It’s a family within the community.”
Mosley is the favorite to capture both team titles as it has for all but one of the past 35 years. The Dolphin girls placed first out of 17 teams at the Panama City Beach Invitational on Oct. 2, finishing ahead of county rivals Arnold, Bay, North Bay Haven and Rutherford. Mosley’s boys were second out of 18 teams at the same meet and placed well ahead of other county schools.
The county meet also provides a final opportunity for many Dolphins’ swimmers to qualify for the team that will represent Mosley in the district meet and beyond.
“We have set up our entries to give many of our younger swimmers a chance to compete in alternate events to allow them the best opportunity to make the district squad,” Coach Sue Cottrill said. “There are only a few holes in our lineup, so the competition for those will be fierce.
“We have also allowed our more experienced swimmers that have solid spots on the district team to choose events that they do not normally swim, because once the state series begins, they will swim the same events in prelims and then again in finals at each meet.”
Mosley’s strength in the relays will be advantageous, and the Dolphins have individual talent on both of their squads. Michael Duderstadt (breaststroke, freestyle) and Jonathan Ratliff (individual medley, backstroke) lead the Dolphin boys, and Lindsey Gurganus (freestyle) powers the girls.
Duderstadt will swim the 50 and 100 freestyle events today in an attempt to break Joey Darnell’s Mosley and county records from 1995. Bay’s Dylan Mock will be competing in the same events and is attempting to break Bay’s school records.
Rutherford’s Chris Jackson returns as the county’s top diver. The top two seeds in the girls 200 I.M., Mikayla Hodges of Arnold and Shannon Doyle of Mosley are separated by a mere tenth of a second.
Arnold freshman Hannah Retherford is seeded well out in first in the girls 100 backstroke as is Mitchell Christensen of North Bay Haven for the boys.