Danielle Pate and Lily Armour are in the IM and freestyle events. Hattie Johnson is in IM, freestyle and backstroke. Anna Constable is in distances and backstroke. They’re all part of a sophomore group that has surprised Bennett by coming in ahead of where he expected.
Senior Sara Metcalf (butterfly) and sophomore Tori Riggleman (freestyle events) also return.
Another sophomore, Brittany Lake, moved in from Fishers and can swim any event. She’s been a spark in practice with a high intensity level. Freshman Claire Kestner is already under a minute in the 100 free and Bennett thinks she may get under that mark in butterfly.
Junior Annie Boytim and senior Christina Wyant are back at diving spots, with junior Lexie Everhart, a former gymnast, joining this season.
Further down the lineup, Bennett expects points from a lot of different places.
“The depth that we have [is a strength],” Bennett said. “We have had some strong swimmers for a while now, but I’ve finally got the girls to back them up.”
Western hosts Kokomo tonight in both teams’ opener.
The Comets expect to be stronger than last season, and think this winter’s seasoning will get the squad ready for a bigger improvement next season.
Eastern coach Dana Culp has 20 athletes out for the squad with 13 returning. She said her initial impressions are “really good. I’m looking forward to this season. It’s definitely going to be a building year for us.
“We got a nice class of incoming freshmen girls. They’re getting used to high school practices and what’s going on. I think next year, with the juniors being seniors and the freshmen being sophomores, I think we’ll have a real good season.”
To start, the Comets will rely on three key juniors and a senior. Junior Katie Swartzendruber is strong in the backstroke. Juniors Maddie Vint and Avery Ewing are strong in freestyle events. And senior Elena White leads the divers.