By Carey Phillips

Smoky Mountain’s men’s and women swim teams will open practice for their COVID-19 delayed seasons at 3:45 p.m. Monday at the Reid Gym pool on the Western Carolina University campus.

Coach Logan Gentry said practices will be held Monday through Wednesday at Reid with “dry land” practices at the high school next Thursday and Friday.

Only two meets have been scheduled so far, but more are expected to be added. On the slate now are meets against West Henderson on Dec. 11 at the Hendersonville YMCA and Jan. 9 against Franklin at the Franklin Health and Center.

“I think we’ll make the best of the season,” Gentry said. “We have a lot of restrictions because of COVID, but I think we’ll be fine. We have a pretty small team so far because of the crossing of sports.”

The N.C. High School Athletic Association’s revised calendar has volleyball and cross country being held at the same time as swimming.

“It’s hard to tell how many people will be swimming this year,” he added.

Among the top returnees for the women are junior Georgie Schweinler, who qualified for regionals as a freshman, and sophomore Brianna Bryson.

Bryson was a member of the 200 medley and freestyle relay teams, which competed at regionals last year. The free squad won the Mountain Six Conference championship, and the medley team placed second. Bryson was also third in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free at the league meet.

Leading returnees for the men include juniors Parker Smith and Clay Pate and sophomore Reed Gamble. They were on the 200 free and 200 medley relay teams that were third and fifth, respectively, at the conference meet.

Smith placed fifth in the MSC in the 100 backstroke.

The women were fourth out of four teams and the men fifth out of five squads at the MSC Meet last season.

On another note, Gentry was pleased with the Nov. 3 bond referendum when voters approved building an indoor pool in Cullowhee. It could be the future home of SM swim teams.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s well overdue. Not only my swim team but the whole community is going to benefit from this pool.”