Local swimmers from Frankfort High, Franklin County and Western Hills are gearing up for the Region 3 swimming championships that begin Friday at Woodford County's Falling Springs Recreation Center.
All three teams will be chasing prohibitive favorite Woodford County for the regional team crown, but that doesn't mean a few individuals can't represent their respective schools at the state meet by qualifying in the top two of their event or receiving an at-large bid.
While no team boasts an all-state performer, each school has several swimmers aiming to swim well enough during Friday's preliminary round and Saturday's finals that they earn a berth to the state swim meet Feb. 27-28 at the Lancaster Aquatic Center at UK.
For FHS, coach Candi Roten said her young team - which features five boys, 11 girls and no seniors on either side - may not have the experience to compete with the top talent in the region, but she's proud of the way her team has improved since the season began.
"Right now we're so young we may not be able to compete with Woodford County or Danville in most of the individual-type things," Roten said. "But I think the older kids are really working hard and the younger kids may still be getting their feet wet. I'm not sure the team knows how much they've improved."
Leading the charge for the Lady Panthers are freshmen Rachel Grider and Aerine Howell. Grider is seeded third in the 100 individual medley and Howell is seeded fourth in the 200 IM. Both have swum well throughout the year, and Roten said, "both usually place in the top of their group."
FCHS features a pair of sophomores in Sarah Baldwin and Paige Burton that could fare well along with senior leader Katie Frank. Baldwin is seeded seventh in the 50-meter freestyle event and Burton is seeded in the top eight in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
And while Kelly Caldwell, who coaches both FCHS and WHHS, said Frank may not qualify for Saturday's finals, she is the team's "workhorse" and has provided a sense of leadership for her team through her terrific work ethic.
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