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May 26, 2020

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Ada swim team led by veteran standouts Katayama, Spar

18-person varsity swim team this season

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - Three-time state qualifier Klava Katayama will lead the 18-person Ada varsity swim team this winter as she chases another berth in the state meet. 

Katayama, who recently signed on to swim at Div. I Marshall University, seeks to become the first four-time state qualifier in Bulldog program annals.

Senior Isaac Spar, a multiple-time district qualifier, also returns to pace the Ada boys team.

Seven letter winners return to combine with several promising newcomers on the deep roster, with both boys and girls teams boasting nine swimmers. 

The Bulldog swimmers enter their second season under Bluffton native head coach Stephanie Steiner-McMahon, featuring their biggest roster in recent years.

Katayama finished fourth and sixth at the 2019 state championships in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly events, respectively. She hopes to improve on even those lofty finishes this winter at the state meet in Canton.

"Klava is an awesome swimmer," said the coach. "She just needs to fine tune her strokes to get even better."

Katayama holds the girls program records in the freestyle sprint events, as well as in the 100 fly.

The versatile Spar specializes in the butterfly, but will swim freestyle and relay events. 

"Isaac has made it to the district meet before and we hope to get him back there in the 100 fly," said the coach. 

Strong junior Paige Cole also returns as the underrated number two swimmer on the girls squad. "Paige is very good in the butterfly and breaststroke events," McMahon said. 

"She has been training this fall with the YMCA team in Lima, and that should help her make it to the districts this season."

Senior backstroke and middle distance freestyler Hunter Wells also returns to add great experience on the boys squad.

Senior Melina Temple returns to swim the backstroke and freestyle events. Classmate Bella East is on the roster but unable to swim due to an injury suffered late in the soccer season.

Junior Ian Dellifield is another returnee who will swim the breastroke and freestyle events. Junior freestyler Jacob Bassitt rounds out the returning veterans.

The group of nine promising newcomers, seven of whom are freshmen, is led by ninth graders Carlie Oldfield and Kaitlyn Bowden.

Both have been standouts on the Ada summer swim team for many seasons. Oldfield routinely won multiple events at meets this past summer in her age group for the Ada Alligators.

"We have a lot of new swimmers this year," said McMahon. "Oldfield and Bowden are capable of big things. Both have been successful swimming on the summer team for years."

Other new swimmers on the team are sophomores Riley Ferguson and Lexi White, and five more freshmen: Kayla Wince, Connor Daugherty, Madison Archer, Dylan Hartman and Brayden Miller.

The coach's team goals for the season are basic.

"I just want to see improvement all season, and to have our newcomers get comfortable in the water," she said. "I want to get more people to finish in the top eight at sectionals.

"I also think we have a good chance to get a girls relay team to district behind Carlie, Paige and Klava, with the fourth swimmer up in the air now," she noted.

"And of course we want to get Klava back to state and Isaac to districts again," she added.

The Bulldogs practice late in the evening on weeknights at the Ohio Northern University natatorium.

The Bulldogs dive into competition December 7 at the Napoleon Invitational. Another highlight comes when the Bulldogs participate in the Lima Senior Invitational Dec. 27.

The NCOSL conference title meet will be held at Colonel Crawford Saturday, January 25. A dual meet at county rival Kenton ends the regular season January 28.

In post-season competition this coming February, Ada will compete in the Lima sectionals instead of swimming at Ayersville as they have recently. The district competition will again be held at Bowling Green State University. 

Katayama is expected to make her fourth consecutive trip to the state meet and even improve on her strong finishes at Canton if she stays healthy.