Since 2005, Baton Rouge-based swimming team Crawfish Aquatics has had a stranglehold on state titles.
“I haven’t counted them,” said Crawfish coach Billy Newport. “But we’ve won a bunch.”
Thirteen state titles to be precise, in the short course and long course categories. Crawfish will gun for No. 14 this weekend at the Louisiana Swimming Inc., Short-Course Age Group Championships in Sulphur.
Short-course events are measured in yards, as opposed to Olympic-style long course measured in meters.
The four-day meet starts Thursday night and runs through Sunday. The boys and girls open 1,000-yard freestyle finals are the first of six events starting at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Prelims start at 9 a.m. Friday through Sunday, with most finals starrting at 4:30 p.m.
Crawfish is sending 135 swimmers to the meet, most of whom have state-championship experience.
“They’re excited,” Newport said. “There’s a few new ones, but most of these kids have been to a state meet. They understand what they’re going to, and they have high expectations, high hopes like the coaches do.”
“We don’t have to do a lot of firing up. They pretty much do that themselves.”
Of the 140 events in the meet, Crawfish has 33 top-seeded swimmers.
It’s an impressive list, but Newport did not want to single out any of his top swimmers.
“With 135, I’m not going to mention anyone over another,” Newport said. “Honestly, if they go out there and perform at their best, they’re all of equal value.”
One who figures to make a splash is 15-year-old Colin Bone, who won a team-best seven individual events in Crawfish’s first-place finish at last summer’s long course championships.
Bone is competing in six events this weekend, and is the top seed in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle.
Crawfish will have plenty of competition. Baton Rouge-based Tiger Aquatics, which finished third in last summer’s long course championships, is also sending a talented squad to Sulphur.
Tiger Aquatics Joy Jason, 17, is either the first- or second-seeded swimmer in all six of her events.
Several New Orleans area teams will make the trek as well, including the Crescent City Swim Club, Nu Wave, Blast, Mandeville’s Franco’s Fins, Slidell’s Hurricane Swim Club.
Newport’s goal for his team this weekend is simple.
“We look for lifetime bests,” Newport said. “That’s the goal for every kid going there; that they have their best meet of the season at the championship meet.
“It’s pretty straight forward; we hope they’re at their best this weekend.”