Making the most of the grand stage
Junior Isaac Childers competed in the TISCA state championships over the weekend at the University of Tennessee’s Allan Jones Aquatics Center.
A state qualifier in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke, Childers posted a time of 23.80 in the 50 freestyle, and completed the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.80 in the three-day event in Knoxville.
Dragons Coach Jan Smith said she was pleased with Childers’s final times of the season.
“He’s a junior, so we’ll have him back next year and he’ll be one of our leaders,” Smith said of Childers. “He’ll be one of our captains next season.
“His times are much in line with what we anticipated they would be. He’s coming off the injured list. He hurt his back and he’s continuing to recover from that and we’re happy about that.”
Smith, a longtime swim coach at Clinton, said that Childers’s improvement over the years is a testament to his work ethic.
“Any athlete, no matter the sport, has to go above and beyond, and their success depends on what they do on their own,” Smith said. “He lives in my neighborhood and I see him running and riding his bike in the neighborhood.
“And he does a lot of work on his own.”
In swimming, which isn’t sanctioned by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association, the Dragons and Lady Dragons are among several teams that have one or two swimmers, and they compete with big teams such as Chattanooga Baylor, Bearden and Farragut, who have a bevy of swimmers.
“Those big teams have large (coaching) staffs and they practice two or three hours a day, and we were one of 39 teams that have one or two swimmers,” Smith said. “But I’m really pleased with our middle school program. That’s our feeder program.”
Further complicating things for Clinton is the fact that the winter holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, fall in the midst of the high school swim season.
And when schools are closed, teams can’t practice in the pool.
“There’s no insurance when there’s no school,” Smith said.
The 2024 state championships will be held in Nashville, and Smith said Clinton must begin a fundraising campaign for the trip and lodging in the Midstate.
“I would like to take a boys and girls relay team to Nashville next season,” she said.
“Hotel rooms in Nashville always cost at least $300 a night, so we’ll have to do fundraising.”