CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Four years ago, Carl Junction High School formed a girls’ swim team, and this weekend, nine of the team’s athletes are headed to state.
Sophia Hensley, Carl Junction senior swimmer, says, “This team has grown a lot from having different coaches, to different pools. Being on this team I’ve seen a lot of different things, but knowing that, we’ve done everything.”
The team practices under unusual circumstances, using three lanes at rival school Webb City’s pool, but they don’t let logistics get in the way of pursuing excellence.
Stephanie Miller, Carl Junction head swim coach, says, “I just love showing the community what can be done if you dream big and go for it. This is with three lanes a day for an hour and a half. This is not a whole pool. You have to deal with what you were given!”
Miller, who swam at Navy and has coached teams worldwide, runs a tight ship.
Miller says, “I’m very strict, and the kids at first don’t like it, but they thrive in the end. There’s a lot of balance. People think I’m really militant, but then I think they also learn that I love them.”
That balance has propelled the team towards a number one state ranking in the medley relay.
Emma Lacey, Carl Junction senior swimmer, says, “We’re constantly evolving. Since my freshman year, things have changed so much. We’re ranked first in the state for our medley now, that shows our improvement, shows how the program has evolved.”
Of course, a major goal this weekend is to win, but that’s not all this is about for the team.
Miller says, “I want them to feel like they’re powerful, strong women that can do anything, and that’s the true gift. When I see their face light up after those races, I know I’ve won, no matter what the time is.”