By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
Fairmont Senior’s boys’ swimming team has been having success all season, and when the Polar Bears took to the waters of the Clarksburg YMCA, it was no different.
The Polar Bears, led by Taylor Campbell, swam to a first-place finish and took home a Big 10 title, 240 to Bridgeport’s 185.
With several cancellations this season due to inclement weather, Fairmont Senior knew it had to stay focused if it wanted to capture a conference championship.
“It’s a different mindset when it comes to races like this. This is one of the more meaningful meets of the year,” Campbell said. “We haven’t won a conference championship in three or four years. It’s really satisfying to know all of our hard work has paid off.”
Of the three relay events that featured the Fairmont Senior’s boys’ team, they won each and every one.
Fairmont Senior coach Michelle Bright said the wins came from the squad’s competitive nature.
“They’re very competitive. They compete against each other but they’re also teammates,” she said. “They’re doing great. They have a good chance at regionals and a good chance to be in the top six at state.”
Campbell, who was named co-outstanding swimmer, was featured on two of the three relays and won two individual events, taking first in every event that he swam in. If you were to watch him in the water, Campbell oftentimes resembled an elite swimmer who’d been doing it for years, beating other swimmers easily but not forgetting to congratulate his opponents in the race.
“I think sportsmanship is key for anything you’re doing,” he said. “If a loss comes you can’t be mad and yelling or anything. And if a win comes, you can’t be overconfident because that can mess with your next races coming up. You always want to stay level-headed and humble so when the next race comes you know what kind of mindset you’re going to have.”
“He’s helped. We needed that fourth person on the team,” Bright said. “It’s been great having him back in the pool. It’s unbelievable how much he’s saved himself even though he hasn’t been in the pool for four years.”
But Campbell knows it takes more than just one person to have success, citing his teammates’ improved times in relays as well as individual races.
“I really think all of our guys have built some confidence through today’s race,” the junior swimmer said. “The breaststroke really picked it up today, and most of our guys had their best times.”
Overall, the Polar Bears had 11 top-three finishes on the boys’ circuit to go along with their three relay wins.
Campbell won the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle. Brandon Ralston took second in the 100-yard backstroke and third in the 100-yard fly. Isaac Kinder finished second in the 200-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle. Ayden Hansen took third in the 200-yard IM. Jeremy Sheppard took second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard breaststroke. Ben Stewart took second in the 100-yard breaststroke. And Daniel Creamer took third in the 500-yard freestyle. The 200-yard freestyle relay team included Ralston, Hansen, Sheppard and Stewart. The 200-yard freestyle relay consisted of Campbell, Kinder, Stewart and Sheppard. And the 400-yard freestyle relay consisted of Kinder, Hansen, Ralston and Campbell.
Having success at a meet like this, Campbell and Bright said, can really fuel a team for the regional meet, which is two weeks away in Shepherdstown.
“Overall, I think everyone improved, and I think we’re ready for whatever competition we have at regionals,” Campbell said.
As for the Fairmont Senior girls’ team, Hannah Booth took home third in the 100-yard fly and seventh in the 400-yard freestyle, and Ashley Bright finished ninth in the 100-yard backstroke.
For East Fairmont, Rachel Rammage finished fifth in the 100-yard backstroke and Allie Lambert finished 10th in the 50-yard freestyle.
For North Marion, Rachel Roth finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle. Jerad Hidalgo finished eighth in the 50-yard freestyle, and Mikey Harrison finished seventh in the 100-yard backstroke.
Bridgeport’s girls’ team won the girls’ meet with a score of 190.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.