MARYVILLE, Mo. — Knowing that it is your final season for a sport you love is always tough regardless of the sport. 'Senior Days' are some of the most emotional days of each season because in most cases it is a culmination of four years that an athlete has given to a particular team.
In swimming, it is a little different. Instead of being a member of a team for four years, Maryville athletes have the opportunity to swim for the Maryville Sharks from the time they are six years old until they are 18.
Maryville's Morgan Goodridge has done just that and the recent Maryville High School graduate began her final season as a Shark on Wednesday, June 5, with the season opening meet at the Maryville Aquatics Center against Rock Port.
“It is my last year,” Goodridge said. “Twelve years … it hasn't hit me yet. I think at Nebraska City (the final meet of the season on July 13), I'll break down and start crying.”
Goodridge got her season started by helping the Sharks to wins in the girls' 15-and-older 100-meter freestyle relay and the 100-meter medley relay. She also added a second in the 50-meter backstroke, third in the 50-meter breaststroke and fourth in both the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle.
Goodridge and the other veteran members of the Sharks have responsibilities that go beyond just their own events. While the Sharks are led by head coach Lauren Macali, the older swimmers also coach the younger swimmers.
“It is really exciting,” Goodridge said. “Especially with my 8-and-unders — they are doing really well this year.”
That means that as soon as Goodridge finishes one of her races she returns the start and begins to track down her younger pupils to motivate them for their next race. Goodridge has been a coach in addition to a swimmer for three seasons.
“They make it so much fun,” Goodridge said of her 8-and-under group. “They are so excited to come every day and even when they complain, it is with enthusiasm. It is a good time every day.
“A lot of kids go and swim year-round, but I like to show the love of the sport. I think you should have fun swimming or doing any sport you play. It shouldn't always just be about competing or having to be the best.”
The leadership that the Shark veterans provide goes beyond those that are even the official coaches for age group. Ethan Stone, who won all six of the events he competed in for the boys' 15-and-older division, says that he enjoys not having a specific group to coach because it allows him to give advice to all the swimmers if he notices something.
“It is the best month and a half of the year, because I get to experience my favorite sport outside of tennis,” Stone said. “I get to experience my favorite sport with a bunch of adorable younger kids that I get to coach.”
Stone is beginning his second season with the 15-and-older age group and is looking to build off the success that he enjoyed in the season opener.
“The biggest thing is that I want to break a record and have my name up on the board,” Stone said. “I did have a few records before, but they've all been taken down so I want to get some that will stand.”
With last weekend's Auburn (Neb.) Invitational cancelled, the Sharks only have 10 meets all season, but Maryville fans will have the opportunity to catch them in action at the Maryville Aquatic Center this month. They will be home again on Wednesday, June 12, against Malvern, Shenandoah and Clarinda. They have another home meet against Tarkio on June 19 and the Maryville Invitational is Saturday, June 29.