IRHS Bella Scharp swimming 2020-2021 (copy)

Indian River’s Bella Scharp competes in the 500-meter freestyle in February of 2021. She'll return for the Indians this season.

Thankful to just get a season in during the COVID-shortened campaign of a year ago, the Indian River High School girls’ swimming team is now looking to continue to build off the positives from that season with a strong group of returning and new talent.

Head coach Dana Schaefer is back for her ninth season, with the program having seen her team turn in a 3-2 dual-meet record last year that was limited by the pandemic. The Indians will look to a strong group of returners to help overcome the loss of the graduated Lexi Hall and Emma Barthelmess.

There are seven strong swimmers back in the fold for Schaefer and the Indians this year, with Bella Scharp, Brynn Crandell, Jordan Gonzalez, Heather Smyth, Ellie Moore, Julia Moran and Lilah Hanley all ready to take the next step in leading the team.

Scharp will be in the sprint and distance freestyle events, as well as the freestyle relays. Crandell — fresh off winning the DIAA Division II girls’ cross-country state championship — will participate in the distance freestyle, as well as the 400 free relay event. Gonzalez will also be involved in the sprint freestyle, in addition to the backstroke and the three relays.

Smyth will jump from the blocks on the sprint freestyle events, while also taking part in the backstroke, 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. Moore and Moran will both be swimming the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, with Moore adding the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays to her list. Moran will add the 100 backstroke and the relays to her pool schedule. Hanley will be involved in the 200 medley relay, 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and the freestyle relays this season.

“We have a positive and exciting season ahead, with new talent quickly being embraced by our core of returning girls,” Schaefer said. “Our swim family is grateful for the support from our friends and neighbors in the community as we raise funds for pool rentals.”

A host of new swimmers have joined the mix, and all are expected to contribute to the success of the season. Among them, Michaela McDowell, Lily Sharpe, Hannah Rock and Kendall Aukland, who are all multitalented swimmers who Schaefer says “will swim a variety of strokes and distances.”

Sara Labarias Vegvillas, Madeleine Fox and Amina Adkins all have gained valuable experience as members of the Sea Colony Sharks swim team, and will be counted on to help in several different events this year.

Schaefer is also looking for contributions from five other newcomers for the Indians as well.

“I look forward to specialized swims from Addison Jerns and Gabi Ragone in backstroke, Delany Aukland and Hannah Aukland in breaststroke, and Madison Tipton in freestyle,” she noted.

Like the boys, the Indians’ girls will be swimming all their meets away this year, since the school does not have their own pool to call home.

The girls will open the season at the Lake Forest Aquatics Center in a dual meet with Polytech on Thursday, Dec. 9. They will have four meets at the Sussex Academy pool this season, as well with dates against Cape Henlopen (Tuesday, Dec. 14), Sussex Central (Friday, Dec. 17), Sussex Academy (Friday, Jan. 21) and Dover (Friday, Feb. 4).

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for over 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his daughters, Kylie, 18, and Grace, 14. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that he builds.