There are more and more Starkville Yellowjackets buzzing around the swimming pool for state championship competition.
When the team travels to Cleveland Saturday for the State championships, there are 25 Jackets participating.
"We have at least one swimmer in every event this year," SHS swim coach Angela Hobart said. "That is unusual because we haven't had a swimmer in every event before. Both boys and girls teams had someone to advance in every event. The strength of our team lies in relays because our boys and girls relays are strong and seeded in the top three. Relay points double so that's really the ticket. If you have some relays that really helps you out when the final points are calculated."
Starkville had all but three swimmers qualify for North State and the number that advanced to the State meet has to meet faster time standards.
Sophomore Lady Jacket Laken Vickers qualified for State in the 100 breaststroke for the third-consecutive season and looks for a three-peat at State.
For a swimmer who has been competing for about five years, Vickers has reached an elite status quickly.
"She has a lot of talent and she's also dedicated," Hobart said. "She never misses a practice and she swims year around. She comes from a swimming family and her dad swam in college. She's really a natural, but she works hard at it too."
Vickers values the success achieved in the sport she loves.
"I'm a competitive person," Vickers said. "To be able to go out and race is fun for me. You bond and get to know a lot of great people. That's one of my favorite things about it."
Starkville has several swimmers seeded in the top five for Saturday.
Along with Vickers, Kristen Lacy, Mark Anne Hobart, Adam Bond, David McKell and Cheng Ye are all seeded top five in their respective events.
"Kristen has stepped up in the 500 free, which is a race that no one wants to do," Hobart said. "She has done well in that and came in second at North State. I would love for her to pull it out and win it at state, but a top three finish is still be amazing."
Hobart said Micah Knox, someone who has been swimming since he was real young, plans to contribute to the relay effort.
"He has really stepped up and he's going to swim all three relays," Hobart said. "He's definitely our strongest free styler."
Hobart said the SHS swimmers show their dedication all year and only have four weeks off the entire year.
Vickers sees the hard work paying off as more of her teammates are being involved in the State meet.
"We're getting a little bit more every year," Vickers said. "We don't have as many numbers as we'd like to have, but everybody has improved."
The preliminaries begin in Cleveland at 9 a.m., then the fastest eight from the morning will advance and swim in the finals in the afternoon at approximately 4 p.m.
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