Okeechobee Shockwaves play underdog

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee Shockwaves swim team took an overall fifth place finish out of 14 teams in their championship swim meet on July 27. The girls finished in fourth out of 14 while the boys finished seventh out of 14.

It was an impressive finish to the Shockwaves season, all the more impressive when you consider the odds stacked against the team.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Okeechobee Shockwaves
Okeechobee City Council member Bob Jarriel made the trip out to Okeechobee County’s Darrell Enfinger Sports Complex to cheer on the Shockwaves at their July 13 swim meet.

Okeechobee fielded only 39 swimmers this year, one of the smallest teams in the championship. Some of the teams the Shockwaves competed against had over 100 swimmers. The way the competitions work is that if a team doesn’t have a swimmer to compete in an event, it takes no points and forfeits that event. That means there were many times that Okeechobee simply had to watch and play catch-up as their competitors piled up points in events the Shockwaves couldn’t compete in.

Head coach Jack Boon said he always prefers to win or place second, but was proud of what his swimmers accomplished.

“We’re the only teams out of the 14 that only practices in the summer, all the others can practice year round,” he said. “Some teams strictly by volume alone. They would be three or four times our size. So I think we did exceptionally well considering that.”

Boon had two new assistant coaches this year, Melinda Gray and Skylar Casian. Gray is a teacher at Okeechobee High School and Casian is currently attending college and is a former member of the Shockwaves.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Okeechobee Shockwaves
Okeechobee Shockwaves swimmers pose for a picture on July 20.

The Shockwaves fielded a young team for their 2019 season, after losing many veterans the previous year. In 2018 the Shockwaves were able to finish third overall, earning a trophy for the first time since 2007. Boon says he see the team using 2019 as a rebuilding year and a chance for the young swimmer on the team to gain experience.

“This year we only had five high school swimmers with experience,” Boon mentioned. “All the rest were middle schoolers coming up to high school. A lot of freshmen. It was fun, though. They seemed to enjoy themselves. Competitions are always fun.”

With the Shockwaves season ending, that means it’s almost time for the OHS swim season to kick off. The first OHS swim practice is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. on Aug. 6 at the Okeechobee County’s Darrell Enfinger Sports Complex. The first practice will be open to tryouts as well; simply show up to the practice at 7 a.m. Boon says he can provide any student athlete registration paperwork to those who wish to try out.

“We’re going to have a very young team at the high school,” explained Boon. “I’m hoping to have a lot of fresh faces and that’s OK. Young teams can still perform really well.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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