Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Depth allows Southlake Carroll to emerge as swim power
After schools from the Dallas area got shut out of the UIL Class 5A swimming and diving titles for 11 straight years, Southlake Carroll ended the drought with a big splash in 2011. The Carroll boys won the 5A title that year, and the girls fell short by a point — after getting disqualified in the final relay.
Last year, the state meet was a flood of green as Carroll blew away the field to become the first school to sweep the 5A boys and girls titles. Now the Dragons could cement themselves as the state’s 5A swim power with another sweep in the state swimming and diving meet, which is Friday and Saturday in Austin.
The key to the Carroll juggernaut is in the pool — as in the large pool of swimmers who are developed each year in Southlake from kindergarten through high school.
“We tip the scales with 5- to 18-year-old swimmers in Southlake,” Carroll coach Kevin Murphy said. “We have about 750 kids swimming. About 10 percent of the total school population swims.”
“There’s lots of material.”
The North Texas Nadadores, a year-round competitive swimming program for kids of all ages, is operated by the Carroll ISD and practices at the district’s aquatic center. Murphy said there are about 270 kids in the Nadadores, and that’s where many of Carroll’s future stars are training.
Six years ago, Carroll’s Jonathan Roberts started with the Nadadores when he moved to Southlake from Pasadena, Calif. Now a junior, Roberts has the fastest qualifying times in 5A in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events. He’ll also be part of a couple of relays, teamed with more Carroll “material” that has developed into elite swimmers.
“We have so much talent on the team, and we just go out and push each other to get better,” Roberts said.
And so there really is no secret. Just like at 4A swimming powers such as Highland Park, where the girls have won 11 of the last 12 state titles, the key is to identify good swimmers when they are young and then develop them. Frisco (boys 4A champs in 2005, ’06 and ’08) and Richardson Pearce (boys 4A champs in 2004 and ’07) also found replacements for their stars to win multiple state titles.
When Murphy took over as Carroll coach in 2005, he had 60 swimmers on his team. He now has twice that many. Only 21 of them will compete at the state meet, but the depth of talented, dedicated swimmers is mainly what sets Carroll apart.
“What we try to do is make sure that everyone is improving,” Murphy said. “Not just the top swimmers. We’ve always been interested in the middle and the bottom of the program, because that’s the future.”
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UIL swimming and diving state meet
Where: Austin’s Jamail Texas Swim Center
Friday: Swimming and diving preliminary and consolation rounds: 5A begins at 10 a.m., 4A begins at 4:30.
Saturday: 5A swimming and diving finals, 9:30 a.m.; 4A swimming and diving finals, 3:30 p.m.
Defending team champions
4A: Highland Park girls, Houston Stratford boys
5A: Southlake Carroll (girls and boys)
Top local team contenders
Southlake Carroll boys: Scored 563 points at the Region II meet and qualified 14 swimmers for state in individual events, as well as all three relays.
Plano boys: Won the Region III title with 221 points, led by Kyle Whieldon, who won the 100 and 200 freestyle.
Southlake Carroll girls: Scored a whopping 585 points at the Region II meet, more than doubling the total of second-place Flower Mound (266). Qualified 11 individuals for state and all three relays.
Allen girls: Scored 433.5 points to win the Region III meet, led by multi-event winner Jennifer Brennecke (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke).
Frisco Wakeland boys: Scored 428 points to win the Region III meet, led by Brayden Seal (wins in 200, 500 freestyle).
Highland Park girls: Edged out Frisco, 441-427, at the Region III meet with the help of multi-event winners Annelyse Tullier (200 freestyle, 100 backstroke) and Kate Boyer (50 and 100 freestyle).
Frisco girls: Won 4A title in 2011, which was only time HP hasn’t won since 2000. Diver Ashleigh Dehls was this year’s Region III champion.