Metamora-Eureka swimming

Tom Batters

 Peoria Notre Dame and Richwoods have enough swimming trophies in their hallways to fill a small museum.

Shane “Lefty” Morrison was at Notre Dame as an assistant coach when a few of those trophies were won.

Now, he would like to have a few of his own.

Morrison is the first-year head coach of the Metamora-Eureka co-op swimming team, of which Metamora took over control from Eureka last year.

He said he wants the teams (girls in the fall, boys in the winter) to compete with Notre Dame and Richwoods for Sectional and State hardware.

“I don’t want to be one of those teams that just shows up. I want to be in the mix. It might take some time, but that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “So far, I am very encouraged. I like what I’m seeing from the girls this summer. We might surprise some people.”

The girls team finished eighth in its Sectional last year and did not advance any individuals or relays to State.

The team will once again have to compete against those top teams in the Sectional at the end of the year.

“I want to get in the top five as a team, and advance a few individuals to State,” he said.

Morrison, who spent the past two seasons as Washington’s head coach, said a strong group of seniors including Kelsey Nafziger, Lauren Kells, Ashley Hilst and Melissa Rainey will carry the team, although about 25 girls are in the program. That number is higher than previous seasons.

“Kelsey is our best breast-stroker. I am hoping she can make the state cutoff time at the end,” he said. ‘Lauren has shown a lot of leadership this summer. She and Ashley have been running some practices on their own.”

Morrison coached many of the swimmers on summer teams.

“I’ve been around some of these girls for years,” he said. “They have the ability to be successful. We’re not starting from scratch here. We have a good foundation.”

Morrison did not have much to say about the tragic death of Sarah Burt, the senior who died earlier this summer after being struck by a truck in rural Woodford County.

“It’s still in the back of our minds, but we have moved on,” he said. “Now, we just have to come together as a team. I told the girls just to go out and have a career year. I think that is what they are all focused on.”

The team will swim at the Eureka College pool for all its home meets.

Morrison said he hopes to create a winning program and generate enough interest so that the school might consider building a pool in the future.

“We have supporters on that,” he said. “But, it’s too early to just come out and ask for a pool. I think we need to build this program a little more, and then we’ll see if that can become a reality.”

The girls swimming team opens its season Sept. 4 at Macomb.