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MHS Swim Team starting to become a product of their younger swimmers that were on the MST team.

MARTY GOODSON - Senior Gabi Smith is coming back strong this year after just missing state last season.The Madras High School Swim Team is starting to become a product of their younger swimmers that participate in the Madras Swim Team, a club team. In addition to a solid group of older veteran swimmers, there is now a younger breed that started swimming long before their high school journey.

"We are finally starting to build the program from Madras Swim Team, now that they are in high school," said head Madras swim coach Tim Nelson, who coaches both teams. "We have taken (the club) team from about 20 to 70 over the past four years. Some of those little kids that started four, five, years ago are now in high school."

"On the girls side, Elli Williams is a freshman and she is what you would call a blue chipper in football or basketball," he said. "She is probably going to score at state her freshman year and she can be well into the top six. I don't want to put a limit on her ability."

"Sometimes girls get faster as they get older and sometimes they don't," Nelson said. "She definitely will, with the way she is growing and training. She wears size 10 1/2 shoe and that is the first question top swimming programs ask. What size shoe do you wear?"

"Michael Phelps wears size 17," he said. "This is how swimmers become the best. She will make an impact. I am not sure what she will swim as her primary events, because you can only swim in two events at state."

"Then we have senior Gabi Smith coming back and she just missed state last year," he said. "She is coming back strong and has actually been on college recruiting trips. Something you might note is, she went out for water polo her freshman year and literally could not swim."

"She was a drowner and now is looking to make state her senior year," said Nelson. "She is visiting colleges for scholarships for swimming. Gabi is looking at George Fox and Willamette University to swim in college. That is an amazing story as far as working hard and setting your goals to something bigger in the process."

"My assistant coach for the Madras Swim Team, Sarah (Nelson) talks about this all the time," he said. "Swimming is a process and that would be part of our core value that Evan Brown would have. My DESIRE like statement would be PHD. Process, Humility, and Dedication. Madras swimming, PHD."

"We have the four-year senior returners, the freshman and we have seven other girls with moderate experience," Nelson said. "With that being said, the two freestyle relays, the 200 and 400 freestyle relay in particular — we are going to scare those records, the team and school records."

"With Elli and Gabi leading the way and a combination of Emma Shierk, Karlee Nelson, Bailey Tucker, and Erin McCourtney, we are going to scare those relay records and that is exciting," he said. "Those girls are going to score well in districts. Districts is in La Grande this year, which is great and high school swimming is different than club swimming. You have all these kids, making the place raucous and it's an exciting sport to participate in and watch."

"On the boys side, you have Carson Hartman, Grayson Dominguez and Jeremy Smith all returning," he said. "We have a freshman, Julian Hollingshead, who has been a top five swimmer in his age group for three seasons in a row. He can swim freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke, so we can put him anywhere. We will see where his desire is and follow the other schools to see what event he will score highest in."

"We have four or five boys that we are going to throw in the relays," Nelson said. "We can enter as many kids as we want for districts."

"The team starts the season Dec. 1, right here at the Madras Aquatic Center," he said, noting that the event will be a big, relay meet, which draws large crowds. "We had 12 teams, 185 swimmers last year and we will have at least 11 teams this year. It will be loud and noisy, it is a unofficial relay and it is a fun way to start the season."

"MHS has the White Buffalo Classic here and have all the official events on Jan. 12," Nelson said. "We draw a good crowd and it is exciting because our successful younger MST members get noticed. People ask about our pool and want to come."

"We don't have any dual meets with anyone in our conference," he said. "Luckily, there are invitationals every weekend. We see six teams every Saturday, 4A through 6A, and anytime there is a sport with a stopwatch, it doesn't really matter how many you have in the race. Elli Williams is going to beat 90 percent of people in 6A."

Championship week is Feb. 8 and 9, in La Grande for the White Buffalos. The state championship race is Feb. 16 and 17, at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, hosted by OSAA.

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