Members of the Halifax County High School swim team include front row (from the left) Abby Casen, Zoe Talley, Maci Henderson, Julia Salley, Jamie Shelton, Abby Dunn and Anna Lewis. Second row (from the left) are Kaylen Griles, Minjune Kim, Jackson Dunavant, Christian Worley, Cale Newton, Ben Ford and Lilian Zhang. Third row (from the left) are Alessandra DeVera, Jacob Crews, Wyatt Nelson, Shea Carey, Joey Duffer, Josh Roberts, Maddie Freshour and Jillian Howerton. Fourth row (from the left) are John Taylor, Kate Jackson, Bo Worley, Lydia Wenzel, Dalton Womble, Trinity Martin, Alex Salley, Tommy Plitt, Brooke Comer and Ethan Kirkhart. Fifth row (from the left) are Ram DeVera, Andrew Kim, Jenna Hall, Dawson Epps, Hailey Owen, Cade Watts, Jeremy Katura and Reed Womble. Back row (from the left) are Emma Payne, Abigail Duffer, Erin Satterfield, Mason Hatcher, C.J. DeGraw, Peyton Murray, Emma Shepperd and Pan Pan Yang. Not pictured are Ashlyn Strickland, Ashton Burton and Jake Carr.

Among Halifax County High School’s sports teams, the Comets boys and girls swim teams have placed themselves among the top in terms of recent excellence.

A Comets girls team has not lost a regular-season meet in the past five seasons. On the boys side, last year was the first time in five years that a Comets boys swim team lost a meet and failed to win the Piedmont District title.

The Comets boys and girls swim team hope to continue that tradition of excellence when the teams open their season Tuesday night with a non-district tri-meet with Prince Edward County High School and Heritage High School at the South Boston YMCA.

“We’re looking good in the pool,” said Comets head coach Shawn Torian.

“I think we’re going to be successful, but the other teams in our district are probably doing the same things we are trying to get better. Everybody is really good. We will swim against Franklin County this year. GW had a good team last year but didn’t have a lot of numbers. Bassett always has a really good team. Magna Vista has a good team.

“We’re going to have to keep working hard,” he added.

“To stay on top, you have to put some work in.”

Torian says both the boys and girls teams should be strong again this season.

“The girls team will be strong,” he remarked.

“We’re not as strong right now as we were last year because we have some holes we’ve got to fill. We’ll put in the work and try to get there.

“As far as the boys team goes,” he continued, “we have a lot of good male swimmers that can compete and have low times. Hopefully when district time comes we can be fortunate enough to be on top again.”

One of the good things for the Comets this season is a growth in numbers. Torian has close to 50 swimmers on this season’s team, a jump from the 37 of last season.

“We have had good leadership from our seniors, Zoe Talley, Jackson Dunavant and junior Shea Carey,” Torian pointed out.

“They have come in and kind of set the tone. We have right many young swimmers that are really good. We have a ton of potential, especially with our middle school program. We have some middle schoolers that are on the heels of our juniors and seniors. What that does is make your older juniors and seniors compete harder.”

Both the boys and girls swim teams have several swimmers that scored a good number of points for the team last season. Among that group on the girls team are seniors Zoe Talley, Maci Henderson and Lilian Zhang, junior Maddie Freshour and sophomore Lydia Wenzel.

Returning swimmers that scored a good number of points for the boys team last season include seniors Jackson Dunavant, Christian Worley and Ashton Burton, juniors Shea Carey and Jake Carr and sophomore Ethan Kirkhart.

Overall, Torian says that with 24 swimmers returning from last year’s teams, the Comets swim team has a good mix of experienced swimmers and newcomers.

“We have some seniors that bring leadership, we have some juniors that have a lot of talent and we have some sophomores with a lot of talent,” Torian noted.

“We also have a fresh group of eighth-graders that can keep this thing going.”

In looking at the girls team, Torian feels the Comets will be strong in several events.

“I think we will be strongest in the freestyle relays,” he said.

“I think we will do well in the 200-meter. If we can do well in the medley relay, I think we will be fine. We have some versatile swimmers we can put in and do fly, breast and back. We are always strong in the freestyle.”

In looking at the boys team, Torian said “we have a lot of versatility. We can mix and match and try putting people in different places to try to give us the maximum points we can get.”

One thing Torian said he hopes the teams can reverse this season is slipping in the final series of meet events.

“We had good numbers (last year), “ Torian noted, “but it came down to the last few events as far as whether we were going to take the title or fall behind. Unfortunately for the boys, we fell behind. Hopefully, with both sides this year, when it comes down to the end of the meet we will be ahead and be able to maintain that lead, whereas last year we would sometimes fall off on the last four events.”

The future appears to be bright for the Halifax County High School swimming program. Torian has about a dozen eighth-graders working out with the team this season. The young swimmers will get opportunities to compete in exhibition events.

“They don’t all show up on one day, but all of them are showing they have some potential,” Torian said.

“We have some middle schoolers that can do all strokes already.

“They won’t get to swim for points, but it is a good thing to see them developing their talent for next year. It’s fun to see a young kid get in and get a lot of oohs and aahs, and people realize he or she is just in middle school. While the parents are watching and have the oohs and aahs, teammates are looking and saying ‘that is good,’ and ‘I want to try to do that and compete with them.’”

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com