STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — It’s official: Marble Falls High School has a swim team. Officials announced the new squad — which currently consists of two athletes — Aug. 15 during Meet the Mustangs.
The team doesn’t have a coach yet, or much of a budget, but Marble Falls Independent School District officials didn’t want that to keep kids interested in swimming from competing.
“We have two girls who wanted to swim,” athletic director Rick Hoover said. “We want to give the kids the opportunity to represent Marble Falls.”
The team currently consists of sophomore Landry Stewart and freshman Taylor Ashbaugh
When the swim season begins in October, team members will compete in two regular meets before diving into the District 19-5A meet Jan. 18. The district consists of Burnet, Cedar Park, Leander Glenn, Leander Rouse, Waco University, Gatesville, Liberty Hill, and Robinson.
The activity is officially deemed a club sport at this point since it doesn’t have a coach or training facilities, so the athletes are responsible for their own training and transportation to practice. The school district is paying for uniforms, meet entry fees, travel to meets, and meals.
“We don’t have a budget (for swimming),” Hoover said. “We’re trying to do something with nothing.”
The swimmers’ fathers contacted MFISD officials last spring about adding the sport. The problem was district departments had already submitted their budget requests for the upcoming school year.
But Hoover couldn’t say no to students who simply wanted a chance to compete for the purple and gold in a sport they love. Despite the challenges of adding the new sport, it didn’t take long for the athletic director to get back to the athletes and their families.
“We had an answer within three days that we could do this,” Ashbaugh said.
The two student-athletes, who have been swimming since they were in kindergarten, spent the summer training at Nitro Swimming in Bee Cave. Their day started at 4:30 a.m., and they entered the pool at 5:30 a.m. for the first of two lengthy practices, which included an evening session.
Ashbaugh has been part of the Marble Falls Tsunami, the city’s summer swim program, for the past several summers. That’s when she set her goal of competing in the Olympics.
Both Stewart and Ashbaugh said they hope to add more swimmers to the program, and Hoover has been contacted by others interested in joining the team.
“We have two kids who are swimmers, and we owe it to our kids to give them every opportunity,” Hoover said. “The goal is we build it into the budget.”
Call the athletic department at (830) 798-8345 for more information.