Tallmadge girls swim team looks for victories in new season

Roger Gordon
Tallmadge's Hannah Flume swims the breaststroke leg of the 200 individual medley at last year's Suburban League Swimming Championships.

The numbers may be down this season for the Tallmadge girls swimming and diving team, but second-year head coach Kaela Long believes her squad will have a good year.

“We only have eight team members, but I think we’re going to be okay, I really do,” she said. “There are fewer opportunities to earn points, but the freshmen we have are definitely going to raise the bar as far as competing against other kids and giving other kids on the team something to strive for. We won’t be able to have two relays in all three of the relay events, but I’m hoping we’re still able to stay competitive in the relays we’re in.”

Tallmadge will try to improve on last year’s team that failed to win  a single dual meet. The Blue Devils will also try to withstand the losses to graduation of Angelina Norris, Lauren Meadows and Alessandra Deblasio.

Leading the way for Tallmadge will be seniors Hannah Fiume and Cassie Jeffries.

“Hannah will swim the 100 breaststroke and probably either the 500 freestyle or 200 IM,” said Long. “She’s a very good swimmer, has very good technique. She’s had a few shoulder injuries, so she’s working through those right now. Hopefully, she’ll be good to go when the season starts and drops time this season. Her goal is to make it to districts in the 100 breaststroke.

“Cassie will swim the 50 and 100 freestyles. She doesn’t have the great confidence in herself that I have in her, but she takes the advice I give her very well. She works very hard. She’s actually leading one of our intermediary lanes, so she’s taken on more of a leadership role on the team. She’s going to be competitive in our [Suburban League American] conference.”

Three other swimmers who will be key contributors are junior Lauren Tan and freshmen Rachel Tan, Lauren’s sister, and Becca Riter.

“Lauren will swim the 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke,” Long said. “She’s sort of like the ‘mom’ on the team because she’s very attentive to everyone on the team and does her best to make sure everyone is doing okay. We’re working on her technique right now, and she’s being a very good sport about it. She’s doing everything we ask from her. I think she’s going to surprise herself this year.

“Rachel will swim the 100 butterfly and either the 200 IM or one of the freestyle events. She’s a very, very strong swimmer. She’s probably one of the strongest swimmers on the team. Her strokes are very good, too, and her times reflect that. Becca will probably swim the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and maybe the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke.”

Other team members are freshmen Hannah Burkholder, Frankie Ridenour and Jamie Ries.

Most of Tallmadge’s dual meets this season will have a different look because of COVID-19.

“Other than the meets at Kent Roosevelt and Copley, who have their own pools,” Long explained, “dual meets will be done virtually with us swimming at the Kohl Family YMCA in Akron and our opponents swimming wherever they swim at the same time. For instance, when we’re swimming the 100 butterfly, our opponent will be swimming the same event at the same time. And we will match the times virtually.

“It’s going to be strange. We’re kind of just trying to figure it out as we go along. What makes it even more difficult is that we need two officials – one at each pool – instead of one. It’s going to be a very weird season. And there will be no one cheering in the stands, which will be strange too.

Long’s assistant coach is Ali Eads.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to open the season with a virtual meet against Suburban League American Conference rival Revere Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.