Ripley’s one-girl team makes waves

BILOXI – Rachel Dees swims during the year with the state’s largest and most successful swim program – the Tupelo-based Shockwave.
But during the high school season, the eighth grader swims for Ripley.
She’s best swimmer on her team.
“She’s the only swimmer at Ripley,” adds her mom, Melinda Dees.
Rachel Dees, 13, placed second Saturday at the MHSAA state swim meet at the Biloxi Natatorium in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke.
Biloxi’s two-time state champion Gabby Aranda defeated her in the butterfly while Tupelo’s Lacy Russell topped her in the breaststroke.
Dees’ clockings were 1:03.77 in the butterfly and 1:12.31 in the breaststroke.
“We go to Tupelo every day for practice (during the season),” Melinda Dees said. “She loves it. She also plays basketball, but she loves swimming.”
Tupelo High and Shockwave coach Lucas Smith has been working with Dees since she was a 7-year-old.
“She has a lot of ability and a bright future,” he said. “She’s all about business.”
Melinda Dees said her daughter’s swimming style has been compared to Tupelo’s 18-time state champion Hannah Wilson.
“They’re always comparing her to Hannah,” Dees said. “They have the same birthday (Oct. 29) and they basically have the same build.”
Dees already holds two age division state records in the year-round program.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal