by Eric Clark

Lap after lap, stroke after stroke, Coach Mary K. Humber and members of the Hillsboro Swim Team are looking to make a splash this summer in competition.

Humber is in her second year as coach and will team with first-year assistant Matt Vogt of Tampa to instruct more than 60 swimmers this season whose combined experience exceeds 28 years.

The team will kick off its season Saturday with a triangular meet at Moundridge. But Humber said helping her swimmers improve individually is her No. 1 goal.

“I don’t care how many (meets) we win or if we win at all,” Humber said. “I want to see the kids improve on their times and encourage them to become persistent, competitive and get these guys working. I want them to improve and provide them with an incentive to win.”

After several years of declining participation prior to Humber’s arrival, the team has seen an increase in recent years.

“I think it died down a little bit before I came because of several reasons,” Humber said. “But the parents of the swimmers helped show me the ropes. I’m not the greatest organizer in the world because I like to be out coaching the kids. So the parental help that we’ve had has been great. They give up their entire Saturday to come and help.”

One of the biggest challenges for Humber and the squad is recruiting male swimmers ages 15 to 18.

“It’s really tough recruiting boys 15 to 18 for appropriate categories,” Humber said. “I don’t think they like to wear the speedos, but we don’t require them to wear them. With all the summer sports and camps going on, it’s tough to get swimmers sometimes.”

Since its inception, the Hillsboro swim team has been building a reputation among other teams throughout central Kansas, Humber said.

“I’ve heard other teams comment about how our kids have great sportsmanship qualities and how they encourage other swimmers,” Humber said. “The kids’ overall attitude is great. They love being in the water and they don’t wimp out on me.”

With eight meets this season and one home meet on June 15, Humber and her swimmers are gearing up for tough competition against teams like Lindsborg and Hesston.

“(Our kids) are really committed,” Humber said. “I just want them to be able to work through disappointment if they have to and work toward their goals.”

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