Jamestown Swimmers Embrace Unity in Hunt for Another State Championship

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Joelle Vereb helped lead Jamestown's girls to a regional championship. (file photo)
Joelle Vereb helped lead Jamestown’s girls to a regional championship. (File Photo)

Jamestown Swim Coach Molly Sandling has coached countless talented swimmers and has taken part in multiple state championship seasons with the Eagles.

Sandling was an assistant coach when Jamestown’s girls won a state championship in 2002 before leading the Eagles girls to back-to-back state championships and the boys to a state championship last year.

Of all the talented teams Sandling has coached, she says this year’s group has something special about it.

In addition to breaking school records and leading Jamestown to resounding wins in the Conference 18 and Group 4A East meets, this year’s group of swimmers have a bond that Sandling says goes beyond the pool.

As an example, Sandling said some swimmers were disappointed Saturday’s Group 4A state swim championships were in Richmond. The reason: They were hoping for a longer bus ride to spend more time with each other.

“My worst nightmare is being on a bus. Who wants to sit on a bus for three hours?” Sandling joked. “They just want to be together a ton. As fast as they swim, they’re about the goofiest group of kids I’ve ever coached.”

That lightheartedness has also led to an increased will to win. Despite swim being largely an individualistic sport, Sandling said the Jamestown swimmers are just as concerned with how their teammates perform as themselves.

Winning individual events is just part of the equation for this year’s Jamestown team. The larger goal is for the girls team to win its third state title in a row and for the boys to earn their second-consecutive state title.

“I think this is the first time a team as wanted a state championship more than I’ve wanted it,” Sandling said. “They all have been striving toward this goal to make it a reality.”

And winning a pair of state championships is most certainly a reality for Jamestown this year. Led by swimmers Joelle Vereb, Abby Larson and Colin Wright, all of whom have set school records, Sandling said she has never coached a team with so much depth and talent top-to-bottom.

With more swimmers capable of earning points in multiple events, Sandling said this year’s team has everything it takes to take home a state championship.

“Having athletes going out, winning races and setting school records, it’s huge,” she said. “We are blessed to have some very talented kids.”