CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington coach Melissa Case is just happy to be back in the water.
The Patriots, along with most schools in the Kanawha Valley, were forced to rearrange swimming practice schedules and meets because of the water crisis that started on Jan. 9.
"We were shuffling all over the place,'' said Case. "I'm pleased with how everyone has pulled together.''
Now it's time to do that again as the high school regionals get underway today around the state. In prep swimming, all schools compete in the same class. (See Page 2B for regional list.)
For individual events, the top three swimmers from each of the four regions advance to the state meet along with the next 12 fastest times of all regions combined. In relays, the top three from each region and the next six fastest of all of the regions combined go to states. The state meet is next Thursday and Friday at the West Virginia University Natatorium in Morgantown.
The Kanawha Valley's contingent of schools competes in Region 4 at 1:45 p.m. at Marshall with Cabell Midland, Capital, Charleston Catholic, George Washington, Herbert Hoover, Huntington, Hurricane, Mingo Central, Nitro, Point Pleasant, South Charleston, Spring Valley, St. Albans, St. Joseph and Winfield aiming to qualifier swimmers.
GW is the three-time defending state champion in the boys division while the girls won it last year, too, after six runner-up finishes.
"We're hoping to win the regionals,'' Case said. "I think the kids would really like to do that and expect that. They've done so well all season.
"I think this year it's the survival of the fittest. A lot of people have missed practices. Will it hurt us when we get to states? I certainly hope not. We're doing all we can.''
GW senior Zach Kidd has the fastest time in the state this season in the 500-yard freestyle (4:51.01) and also owns the second-best in the 200 free. He's also sixth in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 butterfly.
Patriots junior David Nason is third in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly and ninth in the 200 free. Junior Nicholas Peyatte is fifth in the 100 breaststroke,
Senior Joshua Barnette is No. 10 in the 50 free and 100 breast and eighth in the 100 free. Junior Matthew Nelson is ninth in the 500 free, 10th in the 100 back, sixth in the 100 fly and No. 10 in the 200 individual medley.