Five swimmers qualify for North Half


Katie Whitaker

Taylor Williams greets the crowd during the swim team’s introduction at the first pep rally of the year Aug. 23.

Laine Crabb, Staff Writer

Based on their times in the first meet of the season, all Center Hill High School swimmers are qualified for North Half. The competition was Aug. 21 at the Tunica Aquatic Center.

“It feels great to make North Half with my teammates,” said senior Taylor Williams, who won the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.60. He also won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.25.

Also in Tunica, sophomore Abigail Hoffman won the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:06.23. She finished second in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:45.18. Senior Spencer Shannon won the 50 freestyle with a time of 25.16. He also finished fourth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 57.84.

Freshman Joey Dunning qualified for North Half in the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, and junior Micah Logan qualified in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.

With the swimmers’ appearance at North Half set, swim coach Josh Barnett said his team can focus on their next goal.

“It’s a weight lifted off our shoulders,” he said. “We can work on getting quicker times for state now.”

North Half will be Oct. 19 in Cleveland, and the state championship will be Oct. 26 in Tupelo. To prepare, the team practices Monday-Thursday at the YMCA.

“We swim anywhere from 2,500 yards to about 3,500 yards,” Barnett said. “It’s a lot, but we want to prepare them conditioning wise so that they can go long distance, and a short race is nothing.”

Shannon said he wants to keep beating his time.

“My main goal this year is to place in state,” he said. “Making North Half this early feels amazing, but I want to make more races for North Half. For my 50m freestyle I swim a 24, but my goal is to go for a 19 or a 20, which means swimming two laps in 20 seconds.”

In 2018, Williams won the state championship in the 200 IM, setting a state record with a time of 1:53.06. He also won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 57.24.  

“My goals are to win but also beat both of my state records,” Williams said. “A team goal would be for almost everyone to make state so we can have a boys relay.”

Wiliams missed the first week of school this year competing at the Junior Nationals in Palo Alto, California.

“He posted his three best times at the Speedo National Championship at Stanford University,” Barnett said. “He swam in the 100 breaststroke, 200 IM and the 100 free.”

The coach added that his team is in good hands with Shannon and Williams.

“Taylor’s a great role model in the pool and outside of the pool,” Barnett said. “Spencer’s challenging himself. He’s there every practice. He’s a great example. I expect both of them to step into a leadership role for us.”