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Fresh(men) faces create depth for Tiger swim team

Senior Joe Natale adds butterfly as to individual event

The 100 Butterfly is a new event for senior Joe Natale this season.
5dc1ec5b2291dThe 100 Butterfly is a new event for senior Joe Natale this season.
The 100 Butterfly is a new event for senior Joe Natale this season.

Predominately a backstroke competitor throughout his Broken Arrow Tigers swim career, Joe Natale has added the 100 Butterfly to his individual race repertoire and will be entering the water from atop the starting block as well as below in 2019-2020 swim season.

“My parents wanted me to do it, and I’ve always been somewhat decent at fly,” said the senior swim team captain. “I’m dead set on backstroke, but my backstroke and fly times are pretty close, so if I drop the same amount of times in both I can get both of those records. This year, I want to break some school records.”

As a team, Broken Arrow boys and girls swimmers may already have established a new participation mark. Twenty-six freshmen are listed on the roster. With a team of 47 swimmers, the freshmen group is more than sophomores, juniors and seniors combined.

Thus, when swim coach Casey Beck describes her team as “young. Very young,” the statement can is not just coach speak.

“We visited the middle schools last spring, so I think that helped,” Beck said. “They didn’t know about the program, so they said ‘sound fun. I’ll give it a shot.’”

While just four of the 26 ninth graders are boys – “that’s a relay team,” Natale says – it does increase the total number of boy swimmers to 13. That is nearly double the number of last year’s boys squad.

“With 13 boys we might be able to do something now that we have a bigger team,” said Beck – translated: more events entered and more points scored.

Natale has plans “to do something” this season also, something that goes beyond the personal goal of setting new school records.

“I want to play more of a leadership role,” he said. “I am doing what I can to make them positive athletes and get them geared towards healthy sportsmanship.

“I’ve had a lot of good role models here. They taught me that I can do anything I have set my mind to and that is what I’m going to do.”

Based on early season times, Natale needs to improve by six seconds in both the fly and backstroke to set new school marks in those events. He is confident he can do that.

Adding to his chances of getting his name on the BA Tiger record board at the Broken Arrow Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Pool, was a technique and stroke clinic Beck offered this summer.

“We worked really hard all summer, so we could hit the ground running when school started,” Beck said. “We’ve seen a lot of progress. If you look at the times, they are dropping every time they swim.”

She also liked the way her swimmers competed, even if it was against their teammates, in the Black and Gold Preview two weeks ago.

“I was pleased with the level they were all at, because that’s the first competitive meet some of them have ever been in,” Beck said. “We didn’t have belly flops or major mess ups. We have things we need to work on, but overall I was pretty excited about how far they have come.”

Broken Arrow swimmers open the season at Stillwater on Thursday.