There is a new mindset in the pool.
The Fallon swim teams now have the opportunity to make a big splash during today’s and Saturday’s regional swim meet in Carson City. Today’s preliminary action begins at 2 p.m. and Saturday’s meet kicks off at 11 a.m.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association split the northern swim into two regionals after the southern schools moved 10 schools down to the Division I-A in realignment last summer.
Like tennis, the swim programs in the north now have their own regional and state meets, although they compete against DI schools during the regular season.
This new twist frees up swimmers from Fallon to have a better shot of qualifying for state. The top four individuals and relay teams earn a berth. Swimmers may only compete in two individual events and two relays.
Joining Fallon in the newly formed Northern DI-A swim league are Fernley, Lowry, Truckee, Incline, South Tahoe, Sparks and Sage Ridge.
“I think everyone is excited,” Fallon coach Ken Grimes said. “We have several who have qualified for state and several on the cusp. I think the girls can be in the top three.”
Like Fallon, many of its DI-A counterparts carry smaller rosters, which has wiped out most of the preliminary heats. In some cases, such as the girls 100-yard freestyle, only four individuals entered the race, which puts Fallon’s Alex Lynch and Lyndsey Thurston into the state meet, barring a disqualification.
Keith Grimes and Kyle Grimes are the only two Fallon swimmers who will compete in today’s prelims. Keith Grimes tackles the 50 free, while Kyle Grimes competes in the 200 individual medley.
“Everybody else is in the finals,” Ken Grimes said. “I got some good expectations.”
The Lady Wave have been carried by four standouts — Sam Martin, Lyndsey Thurston, Alex Lynch and Tina Anderson — who look to make their first trip to state.
“I think our whole team is going to do well,” Thurston said. “I’m really proud of them because a lot of them have been putting in two-a-days and been going to the gym.”
On Monday, Martin sat next to 10 classmates as part of the school’s annual college signing ceremony. She will swim at Western State University, a Division II school in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, in Gunnison, Colo.
“I want to get first or second in my events,” Martin said. “I think our relays can get second or third.”
The four seniors, though, have helped keep the program afloat. Despite low numbers, the foursome have been near the top of their respected events throughout their careers.
“I think it’s a lot more fair,” Martin said. “None of the other sports have had to compete against the big schools. There’s more excitement … and the fact that it’s not going to be one person at state, it’s going to be the team.”
Joining the four seniors is Katrina Ward, who will compete in the 200 free and 100 butterfly. Ward and Bivens will also compete in the relays.
Fellow senior Keith Grimes also aims to nab his first state berth after narrowly missing the cut last year. Grimes is one of the north’s fastest swimmers in the premier event, the 50-yard freestyle.
“Hopefully I can go to state,” Keith Grimes said. “Being a senior it’s a big deal and I want to go out with a bang. My goals are, hopefully, to win state. I want my times down so I can compete at the college level. I want to win state and have a state title under my belt.”
Joining Keith Grimes in the chase for a state bid is his younger brother, sophomore Kyle Grimes. Like Keith Grimes, Kyle Grimes is a force in the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.
In addition, Nathan Hamry qualified in the 100 butterfly, while Nathan Narang, Garrett Snooks, David Sandvig and Davis Koenig will fill out the relays.
First-year coach Ken Grimes, Keith and Kyle Grimes’ father, said the past two weeks have been more calculating than he expected. Mixing and matching events and trying to peg where the competition will swim has the coach in a more strategic mode.
With the new format, Ken Grimes said it provides an opportunity to build the program and engage younger athletes to swim. Thurston, Martin and Keith Grimes agreed with their coaches assessment and said a good showing would bring more attention to the program.
“It’s motivating a lot of the other swimmers to do better at regionals,” Thurston said. “It giving them a better outlook for the future and giving them more faith in swimming. I think it will make the swim community grow because you have the opportunity to go to state.”