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Swimmers' team has depth, range

Darin Abbasse, left, instructs his new swimmers on the basic techniques. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 22, 2012 - On Aug. 8, the Lake Orion High School natatorium was declared open pool again for the 2012 Girl Dragons swim team, but most swimmers have been swimming well before the date.

Thanks to clubs like Liquid Lightning, Head Coach Darin Abbasse said most of the team is very good. Losses of graduating seniors like Annie Jongekrijg hurt the team, but he said the 2012 group has made up for any losses with numbers and depth.

"Moreso this year than in the past three season, we have depth," he said. "We have more depth and consistency with the girls this year both on diving and swimming which is going to make us a much better duel meet team along with championship competitions. In that respect we're seeing the cycle of young athletes that are consistently swimming year round and then coming to the high school programs. We have more kids coming that are more experienced because of groups like Liquid Lightning and Legacy."

Abbasse also mentioned the Olympics playing a hand in generating additional numbers. According to him, swimming is competitive in Michigan, particularly for woman. Because the woman did well in the 2012 London Olympics, it shows young woman they can be recognized for what they love to do.

Number-wise, the team falls just short of 30 but the number of freshman and sophomores is increased. Rather than mourn the loss of the seven graduating seniors, Abbasse said he was very happy with the balance of the team and the strength of incoming freshman. In total, the team has five seniors, seven juniors, nine sophomores and eight freshman.

"Freshman Kirstyn Abbasse is a potential state qualifier in the sprint and middle distance freestyle, freshman Natalie Zainea is another potential state qualifier and freshman Nicole Horvath is on the rise and very close to being able to qualify," said Abbasse."Returning state qualifiers are sophomores Bethany Abramczyk, Danielle Kudla, Lydia Mattar and junior Paige Munro. Sophomore diver Katrina Bowden is new but has the potential to be a county and state qualifier."

The team opens on Aug. 23 against the Clarkston Sea Wolves and they're hoping to come out with a bang, and a win over their long time rivals. Abbasse said the team typically has an edge on them but he's always hoping to change that. He admitted to being the underdogs going into the match due to the lack of home territory, but said he still thinks Orion can spoil it for them.

Other than Clarkston, Abbasse will keep his eye on Lahser and Rochester Stoney Creek.

Abbasse has coached for 26 years. Orion is a white division team.

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