The Arab Riptide’s season-ending swim party turned into a celebration of perhaps the program’s all-time best performance at the state meet this past weekend.
Though team coaches and leaders weren’t ready to make such a declaration, noting the rec league program’s lengthy history, to them it was the best they could ever remember.
“I never believed I’d see this before I was gone,” said longtime volunteer Marcus Flack, looking at the third-place trophy from the district meet held earlier in July.
The impressive district meet helped send 46 swimmers to the state meet. Because Arab had that many state qualifiers, it meant competing in the large program category. So, competing against the likes of Madison, which swims year-round, Arab had little chance of competing for the title.
But Riptide swimmers competed, and then some, totaling 372 more points than it accumulated at last year’s state meet, good enough for a sixth-place finish. Two swimmers won individual gold medals, and the team brought home 78 total medals (top eight in each event won medals).
It made for an impressive trophy display at Monday’s party.
“What a great season and what a state meet!” declared coach Richard Moser, adding the team “ac-complished some great things that haven’t been done in Arab in a long time.”
Moser noted Arab competed in the large division against year-round swim teams with indoor pools.
“Yet, you didn’t back down,” he told his swimmers. “Every swimmer poured everything into all their swims and competed. We saw time drops from relays that at times totaled 8 seconds. That’s insane.
“So, overall, we did finish in sixth place. However, we were only 71 points out of fourth. That seems like a lot but honestly it’s not. It’s the difference in having two 6-and-under relays compet-ing or not.
“We were close. So very close. We have taken a HUGE step this year.”
Madison finished first with 3,182.5 points. Cullman was next at 1,925 followed by Auburn (1,675), Guntersville (1,074), Prattville (1,076) and then Arab (1,003). Dothan totaled 912.5 for seventh.
Reid Harper (8-under boys) won three gold medals: the 100-yard individual medley, the 25 butter-fly and 50 freestyle. Harper, who was on vacation Monday, didn’t lose a race all season and earned the team’s first-place trophy for most points accumulated for the season.
Harper also competed in the 8-under boys relay team that took second place in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 medley. The medley time was a new team record.
Other members of the relay team are Bryson Bowling, Samuel Lathan and Reed Payne. Bowling also finished fifth in the 25 breaststroke and seventh in the 25 free. Payne finished sixth in the 50 free.
Hayden Williams (13-14 boys) also won a gold medal in the 50 backstroke. He finished fourth in the 100 free. Also in 13-14 boys, Wilson Lemke finished seventh in the 500 free, eighth in the 100 IM and fourth in the 50 butterfly.
Bentley Bowling (11-12 boys) finished sixth in the 100 IM, eighth in the 50 butterfly and fifth in the 50 backstroke. He also earned the team’s second-place trophy for most points accumulated for the season.
Bowling, Brody Franklin, Joshua Scott and Willam Watts took third in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. The freestyle relay time also broke the team record. Also, Franklin finished fourth in the 50 breaststroke and 100 IM and fifth in the 50 freestyle.
Anderly Shumate (13-14 girls) took home the team third-place trophy for total points earned for the season. At state, she finished sixth in the 50 breaststroke and helped her 13-14 relay team win two medals: 200 medley (fourth) and 200 free (third).
The freestyle finish was a team record. Other members of the relay team are Emma Garrison, Lau-ren Lambert and Bailee Parks. Parks also medaled in two individual events: 50 free (seventh) and 50 butterfly (eighth).
In 9-10 boys, Owen Lambert medaled in three events: sixth in 50 free, fifth in 50 backstroke and fifth in 100 freestyle.
Lambert, Joshua Shumate, Jacob Franklin and Colt Yates set a new team record in the 200 free-style relay, finishing third in the state. Yates also finished seventh in the 50 free and sixth in the 50 butterfly.
Colby Franklin (15-18 boys) finished fourth in the 50 breaststroke and sixth in the 100 IM. Frank-lin, Hayden Williams (swimming up), Sam Compton and Scott Johanson broke their own team record in the 200 medley relay.
Scout Casey (8-under girls) finished seventh in the 25 breaststroke. Casey, Raychel Holt, Flora Yates and Harper Munoz finished fourth in the 100 medley relay.
Julia Scott (15-18 girls) finished eighth in the 50 free. And Remi Payne (6-under girls) finished seventh in the 25 free.
Moser, while proud of the team’s success this season, encouraged them to keep working hard. On-ly one swimmer ages out, so the future looks bright.
“If you look at championship teams you will find one thing in common: even after they win, they never stop working,” he said. “We have worked so hard this year. We had 27 swimmers swim-ming for various winter swim clubs or high school teams.
“For us to take the next step, those 27 swimmers have to keep grinding with their clubs. We need 27 more swimmers to join them in this grind. We can and will take the next step but we have to take the work effort we have put in so far, and increase it.
“To be a champion, we have to train like champions.”