OWOSSO — Owosso girls swimming and diving coach Andrew Murray is convinced that this year’s Trojan squad will be the best he’s had in a long time.
It helps having record-setting senior standouts like Allie Pumford and Katie Clevenger back onboard.
The pair combined have a hand in 10 school records — six for Pumford and four for Clevenger.
Pumford broke Owosso’s school records in the 100-yard freestyle, 200 free and 200 individual medley last year. She finished 15th in the Division 3 state finals in the 200 free (1:59.22) and 17th place in the 100 free (54.33).
Pumford has helped set records in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay as well.
“My goal is to finish in the top eight in the state and break my (personal records) and just to get faster,” Pumford said. “We want to do well as a team and try to get close to Fenton (last year’s Metro League champion). We’re definitely better as a team. We have a lot of freshmen talent that has come up this year — five or six freshmen who are really going to add to the depth of our team. We’re going to be an all-around deeper team and we’re going to be a faster team.”
Murray said Pumford has been a great role model for other Trojans to follow.
“She’s very talented and works very hard and sets a great example in the pool — always finishing all of the sets. She’d like to get back to placing (in the state) in the 100 and 200 free and possibly even the 100 fly, depending on where she kind of goes this year.”
Clevenger finished seventh in the state in diving as a junior. She set school scoring standards for six-and 11-dive competitions and set school records in the 200 medley and 200 free relay.
Pumford won league titles in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, while Clevenger won the league crown in diving.
“My goal is to go back to the state finals again this year and hopefully I’ll have a better personal record than I did last year,” Clevenger said. “I feel I competed well. The competition there was pretty good.”
Clevenger — who plans to major in advertising and public relations in the future — hopes to continue diving after high school.
“My goal is to dive at (Michigan State) next year so that’s what I’m focusing on — I haven’t committed, but I’m practicing with the club team there, so I’ve talked to the coaches,” Clevenger said.
Clevenger is another hard worker who has proven to be among the best in the state off the board, Murray said.
“She’s kind of building off of that and she’d love to be in the top three this year — if she can have a great season and keep improving,” Murray said.
Owosso’s success, however, goes well beyond those two. The Trojans have added 11 new swimmers to go with a veteran-laden line-up that includes 14 returners total.
Among Owosso’s other senior go-to swimmers are Lily Espinoza, who was second in the Flint Metro in the breaststroke last season and fifth in the individual medley. Lily Davis placed sixth in the Metro in the backstroke and 10th in the IM. Alexis Chamberlin, who swims the backstroke and individual medley, is back as well.
Macy Irelan, a sophomore, is another returner after nabbing fourth in the conference in the backstroke and fifth in the butterfly. Among the newcomers are freshmen Emily Pumford, Amanda Brainerd, Sophie Voss, Kate Grinnell and Lily Usher.
“We’re a more complete team this year than we have been as far as depth and overall talent goes,” Murray said.
Owosso has already captured wins at both invitationals it has competed in. Owosso won the five-school Williamston Invitatonal, then won seven of 10 events at the Swartz Creek Relays.
Owosso went 9-1 last season and placed second in the Flint Metro League to powerhouse Fenton. The Tigers placed first at the Flint Metro Championships with 759 points; Owosso was second with 392.
Murray said Fenton must still be considered the favorite to win the league again.
“We are hoping to get closer to them, but they are a very strong and a very deep team every year,” Murray said. “For us, we’re just trying to get as close to them as we can and push them. But they are very talented. They’ve won the league probably 10 years in a row at least.”
Owosso’s scheduled home opener Thursday against Charlotte had to be moved to Charlotte because Owosso’s pool has been closed for the past week. A malfunction in equipment has caused an incorrect mixture of chemicals in the water, making the pool off limits for the team to practice in.
The team hopes the pool will be ready to practice in soon.
“It has affected us — we haven’t been able to practice for five days,” Pumford said.
Last season: 9-1, 4-1 in Flint Metro, second place
Head coach: Andrew Murray
Key returners: Allie Pumford, Sr., 100 free, 200 free, butterfly; Katie Clevenger, Sr., diving; Lily Espinoza, Sr., breaststroke, IM; Lily Davis, Sr., backstroke, IM; Alexis Chamberlin, Sr., backstroke, IM; Macy Irelan, So., backstroke, butterfly.
Key newcomers: Emily Pumford, Fr., freestyle, butterfly; Amanda Brainerd, Fr., breaststroke, freestyle; Sophie Voss, Fr., distance, butterfly; Kate Grinnell, Fr., distance; Lily Usher, Fr., IM.