The combination of a new suit and the SWMO Championships being the biggest meet on Ozark’s regular-season schedule has Claire George optimistic she can add to her state-qualifying automatic cut times this weekend.
George already has guaranteed herself a spot at State in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She’s hoping to help the Lady Tigers’ 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relays elevate from consideration qualifying status to automatic.
“She loves the big meets,” Ozark coach Steve Boyce said of his freshman phenom. “The bigger the meet and the faster it is, the faster she goes. She’s fun to watch. This weekend will be exciting for her. Hopefully, she will ramp it up for the SWMO. State will be even more exciting for her.”
At last weekend’s Springfield Invite, George posted personal records of 25.09 in the 50 freestyle and a 55.15 in the 100 freestyle.
“I hadn’t dropped much time over the season. But then all of a sudden I dropped a bunch of time and made my State cuts,” George said. “I think I do well under pressure because my team is there to encourage me. And racing against faster girls, I’m doing what I love.”
Feeling good about looking good also brought out George’s best.
“That’s exactly how I am,” she said.
George sported a new look by wearing a TYR knee-skin suit at the Springfield Invite.
“It was my first time wearing a knee skin. I felt good when I suited up,” George said. “My Mom was like, ‘This might help you raise your confidence’ and it did.”
George currently ranks 16th in the state in 50 free and 23rd in the 100 free. Boyce thinks she has the potential to move up the rankings this weekend and perhaps challenge for a berth in the finals at State.
“She is very smooth and very powerful between the flags in the middle of the pool,” he said. “We’ve still got a little work to do on starts and turns to clean up. She’s making improvements there. As long as keep on that, I think we’re going to have good success at State.
”It’s exciting to see a freshman make the progress she has and set herself up for an exciting State meet.”
Another Ozark freestyler on an upward trend is sophomore Emily Cobb. She turned in personal records with a 26.51 in the 50 freestyle, a 2:08 in the 200 freestyle and a 5:48 in the 500 freestyle all at the Springfield Invite.
“She’s come on like gangbusters,” Boyce said. “She dropped a lot of time in the 500 free and blew out her best 50 time only 10 minutes after she swam the 500 free. That was very impressive work by her.”
“I was pretty tired, but was pumped up from the events since I had done well,” Cobb said. “So, it was easier at the end for me to keep finishing.
“These past few mets have been really good,” she added. “I’ve seen definite improvements. I think it’s because of all the training we’ve done this year and we’re starting to taper a little bit.”
Ozark is ranked in the mid-20s in the state in most relays. Boyce is confident the foursome of George, Cobb, Ashley Mallonee and Emmy Pierson will beat the Lady Tigers’ season-best time of 4:07 in the 400 freestyle relay.
“We will load up and drop quite a bit of time,” he said. “We’ve got room to grow. I feel good about our relays getting (to State).”