Gators girls team focuses on relays in Sunrise meet

Though swimming is thought of mainly as an individual sport, Green Valley senior Allie Dodds thinks the team events are the best part of competition.

“People get so pumped up for relays,” said Dodds, who heads the defending state champion 400-yard freestyle relay team. “You’re just really excited and your adrenaline’s going. We usually swim so fast in our relays because everyone is so excited.”

Relay events figure to be a big key for the Green Valley girls team, last year’s state runner-up, when the Sunrise Region swim meet starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Pool in Henderson. The Sunset meet begins at 8:30 a.m. at Heritage.

Dodds, who won the 200 and 500 freestyles last year at state, is more focused on the team’s success than her own as her high school career winds down.

“I think we can place really well as a team, with (last year’s success),” said Dodds, a Brigham Young signee. “I’m really excited for individuals, but I’m really trying to help the girls get pumped and see what everyone else can do at regionals, then see what we can pull off at state.”

Green Valley’s boys team, coming off a fifth-place finish at state last year, has a different focus than the Gators girls team.

“We’d like to win regionals, but I don’t think we’re gunning for it,” said Green Valley junior Hommel, the defending champ in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle. “We’re not sacrificing everything to win regionals. We just want to get kids to state so they can swim well.”

Hommel does well in a variety of races, including the 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and the relay events.

“I try not to specialize,” he said. “I think the best swimmer all-around is the best IM’er (because he doesn’t specialize).”

That versatility has helped the Gators, coach Bob Swift said.

“It allows you to play with the lineup so you can use other swimmers in there and so you can spread his talents out to use them where needed,” he said. “But I also think it helps motivate the rest of the team. They see where they need to be so that when they get on the relays with him, they can perform at that level. They don’t want to let him down.”

With both teams returning key swimmers from last year’s top-five finishes, the Gators are striving for a stronger showing at state.

“They’re just doing the work in practice every day,” Swift said. “We’ve got a goal in the distance, but we have to do the work today.”