The Leavenworth Pioneers girls’ swimming team is preparing for their first meet of the season on Thursday at Summit Trail Middle School in Olathe.

Head coach Kaley Wittrock said practices have been good leading up to the first meet. She said the team has had about a month of practices leading up to the meet. 

“It is really helpful to have that time and work on a lot of technique and build their endurance before the competitions begin,” Wittrock said.

The Pioneers have 12 new swimmers on the team this year and seven returners. The team will also have five seniors this year.

The team will be young with the large group of new swimmers, but Wittrock said the team has a strong group of senior leadership. 

“The girls that are returning know the program and have improved their technique and endurance,” Wittrock said. “We have a few more swimmers that have experience swimming previously so I see a little more versatility in our stroke and distance events.”

Wittrock said key swimmers this season will be freshman Kennedy Gibson, sophomore Maya Brothers and seniors Elizabeth Bert, Hope Hanlen and Alissa McCarter. She said the five showed a lot of versatility in the first few weeks of practice. 

“I expect these five to score high for the team this season,” Wittrock said.

Wittrock also serves as the boys’ swimming coach for the Pioneers. She was asked what the differences are in coaching the two teams. 

“The girls’ season is set up differently in the schedule,” she said. “Their season is more backloaded in meets due to spring break so we are getting well prepared before beginning our competitions. The spring is tough with all of the events and activities that come with the end of the school year but the girls have done a good job of balancing their time between their many responsibilities.”

Like the other Pioneers’ sports this season, the swim team will see the change of joining the new United Kansas Conference. Wittrock said the conference meet is one of the events the team is looking forward to. 

The Topeka Invite is another meet since it gives the team a chance to swim in the state pool. 

She also said they look forward to the local meets, including the Pioneers’ home meet on April 23.