The Raiders hope to make even more of an impact this winter as they look to qualify more of their swimmers for the state meet.
While Wheeler has graduated and is now competing as a preferred walk-on at Georgia, Best is back in the lineup and has already achieved state qualifying times in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 54.40 seconds), the 50 freestyle (25.36), the 100 butterfly (1:00.53), the 100 freestyle (54.24 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (1:01.79).
Best is the lone swimmer on the Riverwood girls’ team to earn state qualifying times individually so far, while swimmer Tim Stewart (50 freestyle, 23.27 seconds) and divers Zac Craig and McCall Edwards have qualified for the boys’ squad.
The Raiders have also qualified for state in the boys’ and girls’ 200 medley and 400 medley relays
Riverwood community coach Brent Pease said he is encouraged by the progress his team has made so far this season.
“It’s been going very well,” Pease said. “I’ve been with the team now for two years, and the strides these kids have made [have] been very impressive to watch. This is a very dedicated group of kids.”
The Raiders continued to move forward at the Fulton County Championships at Marist Jan. 11, where they finished fifth in the boys’ team standings and placed 10th among the girls.
“Everybody there swam their best,” Pease said. “We are getting close to getting a few more kids qualified for state. Our two big goals this year are having multiple kids qualifying in individual events at the state meet and having everybody swim at their best level, so everybody’s tracking in that direction.”
Stewart, a sophomore, leads the boys’ team in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, while senior co-captains Ryan Young (500 freestyle), Harris Marmon (breaststroke) and Agene Tsutsui (100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke) and senior Eric Jacobs (breaststroke) are among the other key boys’ swimmers.
Best leads the way for a girls’ squad that includes senior co-captains Katherine Burnette (100 backstroke), Annie LeSage (100 freestyle) and Miranda Whipple (50 freestyle).
Pease said he is confident that both the boys’ and girls’ team will have a larger presence at the state meet this year.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who are close [to qualifying] right now,” Pease said.
“We have three boys on the cusp and another three right behind them. If everything goes well, we can qualify six more boys.
“On the girls’ side, you’ve got two girls right on the cusp and then another two. So, I can potentially have 10 more swimmers total qualify, which would be fantastic.”