Waving goodbye to the slow lane
Luke Davis/The Explorer, Marana swimmers rally around assistant coach Kim Dillon, before the start of practice last week.

Tara Murphy said Michael Phelps’ Olympic success drew prospective swimmers—and new phraseology — to her Marana aquatic family.

“We had a really big turnout, a lot of people who had never swam before,” said the senior, who placed eighth in the 100-yard butterfly during last year’s state meet.

Those walk-ons who made the team pay homage to Phelps’ reign in a unique way.

“We have a saying: ‘You got Phelped,’” Murphy said. “We’re trying to make that (phrase) huge.”

Fresh trash-talking highlights the buzz borne from a close-knit and water-logged bunch, one ready to make waves at local meets.

“We know how to work hard, but we also have a lot of fun doing it,” said head coach Erin Brewer, a former University of Arizona swimmer and Marana’s most decorated aquatic. Marana’s pre-meet formulas involve blaring ’80s music including Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen and Wham!, to chanting the “bang-a-rang” cackle from the movie “Hook.”

The psych-outs seem to work.

Marana dominated its Sept.4 meet against Catalina, winning nearly every race, as junior Jordan Jeffries broke a pool and school record in the 200-yard individual medley. “I am feeling extremely optimistic with the first meet under our belt. We had impressive swims and it was only the first meet of the season,” Brewer said.

Paired with Jeffries, junior Drew Hill carries high expectations.

“We are kind of the secret weapons this year,” said Hill, who placed 12th-in-state during 2007’s 200-yard IM, and aims for a top-eight finish this year.

“We want to tear down every record there is; I’m shooting for top three at state,” said Jeffries.

The Hill-and-Jeffries combo isn’t the only torpedo in the Tigers’ arsenal, said assistant coach Kim Dillon. With a strong underclass turnout that required coaches to make their first-ever round of cuts, the Tigers will hope to “Phelp” competition statewide.

Teams to watch

Catalina Foothills High School: The Falcons earned both boys’ and girls’ 4A-I state team championships in 2007. Senior Alaina Kirkpatrick and junior Karima Chuk, who both tallied multiple top-10 finishes at state, will anchor the girls’ team.

On the boy’s side, senior Herbie Behm took first in the 50-yard freestyle and junior Roger Miesfeld took fourth in the 100-yard butterfly last year.

“We have a strong team again this season. The women’s team lost a solid core of seniors from last year’s team, but as always, our goal is for both men’s and women’s teams to win state,” said Falcons head coach R.J. Lundstrom.

Pusch Ridge Christian Academy: In the 1A/2A/3A state tournament, Pusch Ridge men finished fifth, led by returning senior John Spegman, who took fourth in the 200-yard IM. The women finished fourth, with junior Erin Bleyl winning the 200-yard freestyle.

Canyon Del Oro: The Dorado men finished 12th in 4A-I state competition, led by returning senior Wes Baker’s 100-yard freestyle 15th place finish. The Dorado women finished 11th, led by returning junior Lauren Baker, who notched third in the 200-yard IM.

Ironwood Ridge High School: Senior Kyle Adams led the Nighthawks to a fourth-place state finish, as he finished fourth in the 200-yard freestyle. Their returning young talent includes sophomore Matthew Berg, who took sixth in the 100-yard backstroke.

The senior duo of Chloe Buser (sixth in 200-yard freestyle) and Rachel Svetlik (eighth in the 100-yard backstroke) return from a second-place 200-yard freestyle relay team that helped the Nighthawk women to a sixth place overall team ranking.

Mountain View High School: The Mountain Lion men finished sixth at state, led by returning seniors Lee Gundy, who placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle, and Ian Wishnies, who took third in the 100-yard butterfly.

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