Owen swim team is 'like a family,' looks to head back to state championships

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Head Coach Beth Dalton Rathbone's goal is to get the team back to the state championships.

With 20 athletes ranging from freshmen to seniors, the Owen High School swim team is the biggest it’s been in coach Beth Dalton Rathbone’s three-season tenure.

Last season, both the boys and girls team qualified to swim in the state championships. Dalton Rathbone is convinced the team can get there again.

“I don’t know if I’ll have every one of them qualify, but of the majority of the team will,” Dalton Rathbone said. “We’re already seeded for the entire team to go to regionals as it sits right now, but we do still have a month of season left.”

Dalton Rathbone said there is no one event in which the team shines because she has such a strong team.

Of the 20 swimmers, Dalton Rathbone has coached all but one, many of whom swim in her summer league.

Senior Stephen Henson said he has been swimming since he was 10, and Dalton Rathbone got him started.

Henson has already proven himself this season. His most recent victories were in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle at a meet where the Asheville Trailblazers, North Buncombe, Avery County and Owen all competed.

He said his goal for this season is to get back to the state championship because he did not swim as well as he would have liked last year.

“I’m really trying to go to states this year because last year I got sick,” Henson said. “I still swam the states, but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to because I had to miss the week before because I was sick, so I’m just really hoping to perform and place in states.”

Senior Stephen Henson has been swimming since he was 10 years old.

Henson said, aside from getting back to the state championships, he is most looking forward to connecting with other athletes across the state.

“Probably just meeting new people,” Henson said. “Everyone is so friendly and the sportsmanship is great. I love meeting people from other teams that your sit around and you just get to talking and you learn so much just from talking to other people.”

He said that while he wants to do well himself, he also wants his teammates to do well.

“I like to see people go fast and perform really well and he happy with themselves,” Henson said. “I think that’s great.”

Dalton Rathbone said this idea of wanting the team to be the best it can be is something not only Henson values, but the whole team does as well.

“They’re an amazing group of kids who work together to create a team environment,” Dalton Rathbone said. “They’re like a family.”