The Manta Rays swim team celebrated its seniors in its meet on Friday, July 19 in a matchup against Atlee.
Seniors Joe Hardman and Anneliese Rogerson were given the spotlight during the meet, with both getting honored by their teams and coaches for their impact in the pool and for their positive influence on the younger swimmers that look up to them.
Hardman, 17 years old, swam in four events for the Manta Rays, winning three of them and placing second in another.
“When they recognized me at the swim meet I felt good but also sad because I’m leaving a team that I’ve been on since I was four, but I am excited to start a new adventure,” Hardman said.
Hardman credits coach Helen Brown as a strong part of his development as a swimmer, and says he’ll always value his time with the Manta Rays and the people he’s developed friendships with in his time on the team.
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“Being a Manta Ray is good, Helen is the greatest and most caring coach, but being on the team also helped make bonds with some of my closer friends like Leyton (Sutherland) and Cole (Malkerson),” he said.
Starting off his day, Hardman first swam alongside teammate Nathan Getter in the Boys 15-18 50-yard breaststroke, turning in a 35.29-second time that was just behind Getter’s 34.44-second result.
Hardman then beat his seed time of 1:03.88 in the 100-yard butterfly, crushing his time with an impressive result of 1:01.35.
Eight events later, Hardman was atop the standings of an eight-swimmer race in the 50-yard freestyle, winning the event with a 26.63-second time that nearly toppled his seed time of 25.87 seconds.
To wrap up his celebratory day, Hardman finished with the 200-yard medley relay alongside teammates Malkerson, Rogerson and Sutherland. The experienced quartet won the race with over four seconds to spare, finishing with a time of 1:56.65.
Including her role in the mixed relay, Rogerson also had some strong times in three other events on her senior night. First participating in the Girls 15-18 100-yard individual medley finals, Rogerson battled well in a tight race with Atlee’s Emma Allison.
Allison got the advantage in that one, but Rogerson still finished with a strong time of 1:08.75 to start her day. Later, she swam in the 50-yard breaststroke against Allison and finished with a time of 37.19 seconds, just behind her seed time of 34.43 seconds.
In her final individual competition of the day before her relay win, Rogerson competed in the 50-yard freestyle versus Atlee swimmer Avery Jenkins. Rogerson was again very close to her seed time, which was set at 27.97 seconds, and turned in another good performance with a final result of 28.53 seconds.
Rogerson says she’ll miss her time as a swimmer with the team as well as her time dedicated to coaching younger swimmers.
“I swam and I coached and just got the whole experience with it. It really got me excited for all of the things that I want to do in life,” Rogerson said.
Capping off the day, the Manta Rays took home plenty of wins across their many age groups. Both the girls and boys swimmers managed to get a total score that passed Atlee’s, with the girls outscoring their opponent 522-336 and the boys winning their races with a score of 490-377, which all culminated in a final score of 1162-815.
The Manta Rays now prepare for the upcoming 2022 GRAL Championships on July 30-31 that will be held at SwimRVA.