The swimming practice room at the YMCA is a bit more crowded this year.
And second-year McPherson High boys coach Matt Morrow likes it that way.
The Bullpup coach welcomes back a host of state qualifiers that envision higher places this season.
MHS begins its season on Tuesday when it competes in the Newton Invitational.
“We have had a busy two weeks of practice getting ready for this first meet in Newton,” Morrow said. “We have 20 swimmers on the roster with seven returning from last year's team. This first meet will be a great way for me to see each swimmer's strength and develop a path for the rest of the season.”
The 20 swimmers double last year’s number. Morrow will be able to put together more quality relay teams, which means the Bullpups should be better in the team standings at meets.
“The club swimming (McPherson Aquapups) has been good and they’ve been kind of feeding it,” Morrow said. “We have some upperclassmen who haven’t swam before decide to come out this year to kind of put their toe in the water, so to speak. We have three relay events and last year there were times we couldn’t put one relay team together.”
Morrow also has a good-sized freshman group that he hopes adds quality depth, But it’s the state veterans who are going to provide the leadership.
Leading the way is Eric Gaeddert, who was seventh in the state last year in the 200 freestyle and 12th in the 100 breaststroke.
Other state qualifiers back are Spencer Steinert, Max Howe, Gavin Soukup, Jori Van Goethem and Carson Stone.
“We’ve got some really quality swimmers,” Morrow said. “Now we can fill in the holes around them.”