DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

XCP swimmers churn, make the turns

One moment, the surface of the water at the Brophy Prep pool hardly moved, calm and serene.

The next moment, the water thrashed and churned as girls from Xavier Prep made their way down the lanes, divided by plastic barriers strung the length of the pool.

Tuesday (Aug. 8) was the first day for tryouts for the Gators’ swim team, as 42 athletes concentrated on the freestyle and some cardiovascular work under the watchful eye of second-year head coach Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin and assistant coach Jennifer James.

Coach Frank Pipitone and assistant Laura Forbes guided aspiring divers through their workouts later in the afternoon. Swimmers and divers will continue their auditions on Wednesday (Aug. 9) and Thursday (Aug. 10), with the team’s first official workout on Friday (Aug. 11) at 5:30 a.m.

How many girls that will make the team and the number that will not is still “up in the air’’ at this point, Rankin said. She said that the coaches had a certain number in mind, but that was before seeing many of them in the pool, how they looked and the shape they were in.

The other strokes will be the focus over the final two days, as will the sprint events and aerobic drills.

“We know we will be a lot better team than last season (when the team finished fourth at state),’’ Rankin said.

Xavier’s chances will be bolstered by about 15 incoming freshmen “who are quality swimmers,’’ Rankin said. “They will push for the No. 1 spot in certain events.’’

There are a handful of swimmers who will participate in more than one event (individually), but some will specialize in one particular event, an indication of the team’s depth. But the coach wants the girls to continue to work on all of their strokes, which will be key elements of relay events.

“I looked forward to this first day for a lot of reasons,’’ Rankin said. “And I’m looking forward to watching the girls grow and improve as we continue.’’

The girls’ team spirit and unity was evident when they gathered in a big circle at the close of the workout and went through some boisterous cheers.

Rankin said the biggest challengers to Xavier come state meet time will be Chandler High and Phoenix Desert Vista.

The team will participate in an intrasquad meet at Brophy on Aug. 25, and the first meet of the regular season will be on the road, on Aug. 31 against Anthem Boulder Creek at the Anthem Community Center. 

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