Ben Buckelew

Guntersville High's Ben Buckelew was among 8 Guntersville High swimmers to qualify for sectionals in the very first meet of the season.

Four weeks before their first meet, swimmers for the Guntersville High School Swim team were not even sure they were going to have a swim season.

They knew their previous coach had chosen to resign after having a baby. They knew parent volunteers had come forward to take over the coaching duties, but there had to be a school sponsor. And what about COVID rules; would they even be allowed to have a season?

The announcement came on August 14. Yes, GHS would have a swim team for 2020!

Three days later, the team and their parents met the new school sponsor, Jacob Holland, and met with the new volunteer coaches, Brian and Melanie Baker. The next day was their first practice. Twenty-three days later would be their first meet.

The team has 13 swimmers this year; 9 are returning. And all but one regularly swims either year-round or on summer rec teams. That experience enabled the team to be ready for their first competition.

The team traveled to Boaz Thursday and competed against nine other teams, mostly 6A-7A teams. Swim classifications are different then other sports. All classifications compete against each other during the season. But then 1A-5A schools are grouped together and compete against each other at sectionals and state. The goal for each swimmer is to swim within the sectional time standard set for their particular events.

Guntersville took nine swimmers to the meet. Each swimmer swam two individual events and both the men and women had relay teams. It was a great meet for the ‘Cats.

Eight swimmers swam sectional qualifying times in 11 events and are already qualified to swim in the post season. Three swimmers: Ben Buckelew, Alexander East and Gabe Marsh, are qualified in both of their individual events. Other qualifiers include: Will Edwards, Sarah Fondren, Addie Grace Smith, Annabel Ausley, and Liza Kate Edwards.

For the team scores, the women’s team came in 5th. The combined teams tied for 7th. The ‘Cats travel to Scottsboro this Thursday for another meet.

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