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DHS swimmers set to make a splash

by Chuck Smock

Don Luikart is philosophical – and unselfish – when it comes to trying to put together the best possible swim teams at Douglas High.

In fact, two of his top girls this season don’t even practice with the team. Junior Brittany Reichardt and sophomore Charlene Rigdon, both of whom excelled at the state championships last season, are coached by Skip Rogenbihl in Carson City. They compete for the Tigers in meets, however.

“High school kids and middle school kids, especially in a small community, are always real busy with a lot of different activities,” Luikart said. “I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face if I tried to make everybody on the team be at our pool from 2:30 to 5:30 every day. I’d have five kids on the team.

“This is an open opportunity for everybody to become better at swimming. My key thing is: Just have fun. We want the kids to get to know each other, enjoy the trips and make some friends.”

And the system works.

Reichardt has won the state championship in the 100 breaststroke in each of her first two years competing for Douglas. She was third in the 200 individual medley last season at state.

Last December, Reichardt, who has qualified to swim the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 2000 Games in Australia, finished 12th overall in that event at the U.S. Open in Texas and was 16th in the 200 breaststroke.

She said she’d prefer to be able to practice with her high school teammates, but added that her current workout schedule is OK.

“It would be more fun if we spent more time with them, but we see them at school,” Reichardt said. “When we go to swim meets, it’s really fun to hang out with them. We all root for each other.”

Rigdon was second in the 100 backstroke at state and took third in the 50 freestyle as a freshman to help the Douglas girls to an eighth-place finish.

Rigdon also competed at the U. S. Open in Texas in December.

Senior Katie Carlson is a good leader and has the ability to swim several different events, according to Luikart. She’ll swim butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle events this season and is a good relay swimmer.

Junior Martina Oxoby gives the Tigers another swimmer who can contribute in a variety of strokes, including breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle.

Sophomores Ellen Lillegard and Sarah Edwards both swim the freestyle distance events.

On the boys’ side, freshman Peter Keegan has the potential to make some big waves this season, Luikart said.

“He has incredible strokes and he’s getting stronger,” the coach said.

Keegan is especially tough in the backstroke and individual medley. He’s also very strong in butterfly and freestyle, according to Luikart.

Senior Bobby Nix returns for the Tigers as a sprint specialist.

Luikart said both of his teams have more depth than they did a year ago. He also expects the Tigers to experience some more success at the state meet.

“We’ll have some individual championships,” said Luikart, who swam competitively in college at Bowling Green University in Ohio in the late 1970s. “Our girls could be in the top five (in the team standings).

“The goal for the guys is to get a couple of relay teams to state. It’s always fun to go to Vegas.”