Senior Kiki Thom is expected to lead the way for the Joplin High School girls swim team this winter.
As a junior, Thom recorded a state-consideration time in the 100-yard butterfly and swam on Joplin’s relay teams that achieved state-consideration times.
Joplin coach Juliana Hughes expects big things from Thom.
“Kiki has the ability to obtain state consideration times in her individual events and we have some strong girls coming in who could make some fast A-relays,” Hughes said. “Thom is a swim club member who practices during the summer to stay in peak condition.”
In addition to Thom, Joplin will rely on senior Emma Marshall, sophomores Brylea Smith and Lydia Barwick, junior Evelyn Watson and the junior sister duo of Gwen and Izzy Zamanzadeh.
Joplin must overcome the loss of seven seniors from last year’s squad, many of whom were key contributors.
“Because we lost seven of our swimmers to graduation, this may be a rebuilding season,” Hughes said. “With that said, I have some girls who make strong efforts with their practice sets and workouts outside of swim and should progress at a good rate over the season.”
Marshall is expected to compete in the long distance events.
“She often helps the girls with team organization, support, and suit malfunctions,” Hughes noted. “She enters each practice and meet with a smile and a determination that is infectious to others.”
Smith swam on the team’s A-relays last season.
“Smith can swim any stroke well and fast, but enjoys the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly,” Hughes said.
Barwick will likely be filling a spot on the team’s top relays.
“Barwick participates in a summer swim club to keep active and conditioned with her strokes,” Hughes said.
Watson is another athlete who may fill an open spot on the A-relays. She’s also expected to compete in the 200 individual medley and the 100 fly.
“Evelyn stays conditioned with her participation in Tri-State during the summer and regular swim club practices during the offseason,” Hughes commented.
“Gwen and Izzy Zamanzadeh will be returning this year with summer swim club experience and a heart to excel in some long distance events they started last season,” Hughes said. “They are great teammates, bring positivity and encouragement to the team, and never cease with their humor. Both are willing to swim any event and have shown amazing progress over the years and during the season as they drop time in their individual events.”
Coach Hughes said she’s confident the team will make steady progress throughout the season.
“Entering my fifth year as head coach of the girls, it is always exciting to see the progress each swimmer makes from year-to-year and throughout the season,” Hughes said. “As coaches, we try to teach good work ethic and, in the end, it always pays off with tremendous progress.”
“My concerns are mainly on the practice facilities and giving the girls the equity other teams have with practicing,” Hughes added. “Joplin doesn’t have our own school pool. We have always used the university’s pool and many repairs have been on the list to be made. When the university is closed or pool repairs are done, we are without a location to practice. In the past, the boys team has made special arrangements with the Joplin Family YMCA, who accommodates sharing the pool and a couple lanes during their open evening hours.”
Hughes added there’s a lot to like about this year’s group.
“The strength of our team is the encouragement and camaraderie each person provides to one another,” she said. “It is a special and unique experience to the sport of swim. Key to success for our team this year is working hard, trusting the process and learning from each mistake so we can go forward.”
Joplin will begin the season on Nov. 30 at Carthage. The Eagles will host an invite at MSSU on Dec. 12.