Susanne Smith’s Boys 200-yd Relay Team Heads to State

Coach Susanne Smith’s inaugural year at the helm of Stratford’s swim team along with the team’s transfer from the GISA to the GHSA has meant changes for the veteran team.

More teams in the GHSA have year-round swimmers than the GISA whose teams consist of four-month swimmers due to their participation in other sports.

“I think the hardest adjustment for me has been coaching a team with the majority being seniors. They were used to the same person for so long, and we all had to adjust to each other. I think we’re all on the same page now,” Smith said.

Most of the younger students on the team have easily adjusted to their new coach, but it took more time for some of the older students, who were used to the previous head coach, Robert Place.

Smith isn’t completely new to Stratford. Last year she helped coach the JV team, and she has been coaching at Swim Macon for three years, where the majority of Stratford’s swim meets are held.

According to Smith, she coaches swimming because it has always been a passion of hers. Her daughter, Abigail, a Stratford freshman, swims for the team.

Smith appreciates when students come to practice on time, work as hard as they can, and realize the positive results that come from it.  “I have enjoyed being at Stratford and coaching the team,” Smith said.

“I just want everyone to get out of the water feeling like they swam their best,” senior team captain Ella Hall said.

At the recent region Middle Georgia Championship meet on Jan. 23, the girls’ team won first place and the boys’ won third place. Hall took first in the girls’ 200-yard individual medley and senior Noah Cole duplicated this for the boys’ team. Freshman Ellie Minette took first in the 200-yard freestyle and in the 100-yard breaststroke competitions, Abigail Smith took first in the 100-yard butterfly, and senior Joseph Slappey took first in the 50-yard freestyle.

The boys and girls 200-yard freestyle teams both took first.  Swimmers for these races were Cole, Slappey, seniors Sean Grossnickle, Cole Ham-West, Laurel Ferrari, sophomore Tarab Ajjan, and freshmen Katherine Hall and Kaylee Jellum.

Minette, Hall, Smith, and senior Dori Kacsoh, the 400-yard freestyle girls’ relay team, also took first.

Heading to the state meet in Atlanta on Feb. 6 are Cole, Slappey, Ham-West and Grossnickle, the boys varsity 200-yard freestyle relay team. They swim in the preliminaries on Friday and hope to swim on Saturday.