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Swimmers take aim at River City Classic

[5/29/03]The Vicksburg Coke Racers will get their first taste of swimming competition this year as they open the 8th annual River City Classic at City Pool starting Friday.

The 8-and-under division competes Friday from noon to 4 p.m. The remaining divisions, ranging from 9-and-10 to 15-and-over, compete Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The meet is the first in a short swimming season that finishes at the end of July.

“We’ve got to get some meets in for the kids to qualify (for state) because the season is so short,” meet director Steve English said.

At last year’s meet Vicksburg finished seventh in a field of 12 teams.

This year, fewer teams will be showing up as some teams from the northern part of the state have chosen to skip the meet in favor of out-of-state meets that have a higher level of competition.

English said he expects 10 teams to show up with around 200 swimmers.

Coke Racers coach Brad Radford is disappointed that some teams aren’t coming.

“It’s good for the state to have teams compete together,” he said. “We go to all their meets, so we’d like them to come to ours. It’s going to hurt the state if all the teams go out of state to compete.”

Radford is looking for big things from this year’s team, but he said he’s unsure of how to gauge the team since this is its first meet of the season.

“We’re just kind of getting into it,” he said. “I’d like to see some good times and maybe see some state-qualifying cuts.”

Vicksburg has been practicing rigorously, heading to the pool each morning at 6:30 and swimming for roughly three hours.

Many of the older swimmers complement the morning practice with afternoon dryland training that consists of running, situps and pushups.

Among the older group, Radford expects a big meet from Alan Ebersole, Allen Karel, Elena English and Cameron Smith. In the younger group, Kris Fischenich, Katie Floyd and Jase Ebersole should have standout performances.

However, Radford said he expects the opponents to be tough.

“I think a lot of teams coming in will give us some good competition,” he said, “especially Sunkist and Makos.”

Both teams hail from Jackson. Sunkist finished third last year, while Mississippi Makos were fifth in the Vicksburg meet.