CCSL swimmers eye key dates

Some things about the Capital City Swim League are predictable.

Like Catholic High and St. Joseph’s Academy being two of the top teams in Baton Rouge’s 25-team league.

After two weekends of competition, some typical trends have emerged. While there will be no competition Saturday because of college testing, the push for improvement continues with all eyes focused on two key sets of dates.

The CCSL championships are scheduled for Nov. 2-3. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Swim Meet is Nov. 20-23 in Sulphur.

“We’re only a couple of weeks into the season, but we’re a week away from midseason,” Catholic High coach Doug Logsdon said. “And there’s still a lot of work to do. That means working on turns and streamlines and refining everything we do.

“We’ve got 16 guys who have about 56 state-meet qualifying swims between them. There are another five or six guys we’re looking to get qualified. We’re starting to look at where guys will swim at city and state.”

Catholic has won the last 23 CCSL boys titles and placed first in regular-season meets the last two weekends. St. Joseph’s Academy, winner of 13 straight CCSL girls crowns, also dominated in its only 2013 meet.

“I’ve been pushing these girls hard,” SJA coach Rebecca Barber said. “I’m impressed with the progress they’ve made. It’s not just about the meets. They’ve been working hard in practice. We’re already swimming practice times comparable to what we did at the end of last season.

“That’s a good thing, but they also know we’ve got work ahead of us if we want to achieve the goals we have. We won a state title last year and we’d like to do that again, but we also want to swim best times and show improvement every week.”

SJA (Division I) and Episcopal (Division III) were girls state champions last season. The Catholic (Division I boys), Baton Rouge High (Division II girls) and The Dunham School (Division IV boys and girls) all posted runner-up finishes.

Several top performers return, including Catholic junior Colin Bone, who was the CCSL’s Outstanding Boys Swimmer in 2012. Caroline Beene, a double winner at the first meet, is among St. Joseph’s leaders.

Top performers who return for other schools include Episcopal’s Chanler Turnley, Dutchtown’s Sarah Kudijaroff, Dunham’s Olivia Huffman for the girls and Parkview Baptist’s John Miller, East Ascension’s Mason Hutchinson, Denham Springs’ Brady Coleman and Baton Rouge High’s Jerry Ye for the boys.

Baton Rouge High has moved up to Division I with the LHSAA’s reclassification, while Episcopal has dropped to Division IV.

Another key change is CCSL’s move to cluster meets. Teams are placed together in small cluster groups and the cluster groups are placed together for meets. So instead of hosting large meets each week, the CCSL hosts two smaller meets.

“The advantage to the cluster meets is the meets don’t last all day,” Episcopal coach Stephen Anderson said. “The disadvantage is you don’t get to see as many teams. We’ve been in two meets, and we had some of the same teams in both.

“We’d like to win another state title with our girls and see our boys go as far as they possibly can.”

Though the cluster meets make it harder to gauge the league overall strength, Logsdon said the first couple of meets appeared to be a little top heavy, thanks to a dominant group of juniors and seniors.

“I do think it is top heavy right now,” Logsdon said. “You’ve got a large group of juniors and seniors who are strong. I haven’t seen as many freshmen or sophomores coming up to fill in some of spots in the top 16 yet.

“We’re fortunate to have a great group of freshmen. Hopefully, as the year goes on we’ll see that.”

Barber does, however, like some of the growth she sees.

“I think swimming is continuing to get bigger,” Barber said. “Some of the schools I’ve seen this year have larger teams. You can see their swimmers are better. That’s what we need.”