Swimming: Jones improves on times for freestyle, backstroke wins

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Most swimmers post slower times in their first meet of the high school season.
Not Eli Jones.
Tupelo’s senior swimmer won the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke in the Golden Wave’s four-team meet Thursday at Rob Leake City Park pool with clockings faster than his pre-meet seeded times.
“He’s a senior who has some goals he’s trying to accomplish,” Tupelo coach Lucas Smith said.
Jones won the 200 free in 1:53.44 and 100 back in 56.28. His seeded times were just a few tenths slower, but he was pleased with the improvement.
“I worked a lot over the summer,” he said. “I’m trying to have a better season. I was disappointed with my times last year. My times today were promising.”
Tupelo’s boys, the defending state champions, and girls swept the team championships with 68 and 61 points, respectively. Starkville was second in boys and girls. The Columbus boys and Ripley girls were third and the Tupelo Christian Prep boys and girls were fourth.
Jones was also a member of two winning relays, taking the 200 medley with Rick Deaton, Colton Fremont and Michael Ray in 1:44.75, and the 400 freestyle with Connor Anderson, Colton Fremont and Grant Thornton in 3:37.41.
In the 200 free relay, Ray, Connor Chase, Hayden Hershfelt and Deaton won in 1:38.36.
The Wave’s Fremont was a double individual winner, taking the 100 butterfly in 56.07 and the 200 indivdual medley in 2:03.36.
Lacey Russell and Bailey Scott were double individual winners for the Lady Wave. Russell won the 200 free in 2:01.93 and the 100 free in 56.69. Scott won the 100 back in 1:05.06 and the 50 free in 25.05.
Scott, Chelsea Gray, Cris Roberts and Rachel Wilson won the 200 medley relay in 1:59.97. Russell, Taylor Greer, Lauren Bean and Scott won the 200 free relay in 1:49.64 while Russell, Wilson, Greer and Roberts captured the 400 free relay in 4:05.69.
“The first meet is always good to see where you are,” said Russell, who won four state titles last season. “It motivates us to work harder.”
Smith was pleased with his team’s performance, but he expects them to step it up a notch each week.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” he said. “We swam tired today, but we practiced hard this morning. I wanted to see them fight through a race after being broken down.
“I was excited to see a lot of good times from our younger swimmers.”
gene.phelps@journalinc.com