Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SPORTS >> Piranhas growth expected to accelerate soon

BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: The Cabot Piranhas are struggling with numbers, but the coming new pool should change that.

The Cabot Piranhas swim team, which competes in the Central Arkansas Swim League, has had decent start to the season so far. After two meets, the Piranhas are still searching for their first win, but have reasons to be hopeful. The Cabot team has yet to take its full team of about 100 swimmers to a meet, and sees lots of opportunity for point totals to increase when the whole team is together.

Cabot coach Debbie Skidmore is also pooling a team that now lacks a few of its top point-getters from a year ago.
“All the kids from the high school team went to Searcy,” Skidmore said. “They’re swimming up there in the USA league, which is a higher level of competition. They should really excel up there and improve a lot.”

Skidmore, who has been coaching the Piranhas since their inception nine years ago, now has something big to be excited about. The team is getting an official-size, indoor pool to practice and compete in once Cabot’s new community center is completed.

It’s something for which Skidmore and supporters of the Piranhas have lobbied for years, and it should be completed this November. That means the 2007 Piranhas will finally have a home pool.

“I’m just thrilled about it,” Skidmore said. “It should really help us grow a lot. Right now we don’t have the facilities to compete with the other teams in our league. That hurts us with our numbers. The largest teams in our league have close to 200 swimmers. Once we’re in the new facility, I believe we’ll start seeing participation numbers really pick up.”

This year, Cabot still has plenty of strong swimmers. Dylan and Megan Owens are a sibling duo that always scores high for the Piranhas. Michael Rakoski is one of the fastest swimmers on the team. He was missed in week one against Sherwood, but won every event in his division last week against Maumelle.

Faith Blair has been a top scorer for a few years for the Piranhas, she is now competing and scoring well in the 12-under girls division.

Vicki and Alice Lovellette are another pair of siblings that perform well each week for the team.

The Piranhas lost one third of their only trio of siblings when Jared Santiago, the oldest of three Santiago brothers, quit this year due to other commitments.

His younger brothers James and John still enjoy plenty of success each week.

Skidmore also mentioned some swimmers that have im-proved dramatically over the past year.

Twelve-under girls’ swimmer Emma Fulham has moved up into the silver division of most events, as has 10-year-old Frances Mc-Fadden.

“We really have a lot of kids that are moving right on up,” Skidmore said.

“One of the greatest things to see as a coach is the kids that didn’t just jump right out of the gate as fast swimmers really showing that improvement. We have some that are doing that now.”

Cabot will swim this Saturday against the Otter Creek Otters. The following week is an off week for the CASL teams.
Cabot will finally get to host its own meet on July 8 at the Jacksonville Community Center against Bryant.