October 17, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker
Sophomore Danielle Kudla uses a butterfly stroke during an Oct. 11 duel meet at Lake Orion High School. Photo by T. Connolly. (click for larger version)
Review Staff Writer
The season for the Lake Orion High Lady Dragons swimming and diving team has been going swimmingly.
"It's been a very successful season so far," said Coach Darin Abbasse.
The Dragons are in a three-way tie for the OAA White Division lead with Lahser High School and Troy High School. Lake Orion will host the division championships in the high school natatorium on Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. on all three nights.
The home pool, which according to Abbasee is one of the best in the area, will offer the girls an advantage.
"Our kids would rather swim here than other places, and that gives us a big advantage," he said. "Our pool is very fast and it will minimize travel which is always an advantage. This is our 10th time hosting a league championship."
Four swimmers, freshman Kirstyn Abbasee, sophomores Bethany Abramczyk, Danielle Kudla and Lydia Mattar, have all qualified to compete in state championships.
Freshman Natalie Zainea, junior Paige Munro and senior diver Katie Corcoran have also qualified., Coach Abbasee believes senior Courtney McClear will also qualify by the end of the season, where the team now has a 5-1 duel meet record (5-3 overall.)
"Last year we had six qualifiers so this will really be our largest group of girls to go to states," said Abbasee. "It's going to be very interesting. The league meet will probably be very competitive."
The girls have been working a long time to make it this far. They started practicing in August and during the school year, practice three days a week before school, starting at 5:30 a.m.
Morning practice starts with a dry land workout in the weight room or various swimming and kicking drills in the pool to help build endurance, strength and speed.
Both swimmers and divers also practice after school from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. without the dry land workouts.
Abbasse estimates that in a typical day, team members swim close to 10,000 yards.
"They go home tired, all of them," Abbasse said. "It's a two and a half hour practice and requires a lot of strength and endurance."
The extensive pool time has paid off in various meets. At the Oakland County Championships, the girls placed fifth, scoring the most points the Dragons have ever achieved at that meet.
Seven team members for state championships in the process. They are now looking forward to reaching new heights at the state championships, and of course still shooting for the league championship.
"We've accomplished our goals, but we still have two big hurdles to go, and we look forward to that," Abbasse said.
Most importantly, though, the team has been doing a great deal of bonding with each other. They have had several pasta dinners throughout the season the night before meets. The team hosted a lock-in sleepover in the natatorium. All the camaraderie has paid off with a team-oriented mindset.
"All in all, the team has really bonded well with each other," Abbasse said. "It's a great personality of individuals that are working well and it reflects in our dual meet record along with the accomplishments and individual performances."
Co-Editor Gabriel Ouzounian contributed to this article.