Cape Girardeau Central boys swimming coach Dayna Powell knows it will be tough for her new-look team to break a two-year stretch of posting losing dual-meet records.
But Powell is still excited about the upcoming season.
"We graduated 10 seniors last year so we're a new team, but I'm thrilled because we have 15 brand-new swimmers, a lot of them juniors and seniors," she said. "We definitely have a lot to learn, but it's exciting there are that many new swimmers who are interested in learning."
The Tigers' first 11 seasons of swimming produced no losing records in dual meets, but that ended two years ago when Central won just twice. And last season the Tigers went 6-9.
"We have such a tough schedule, as far as winning meets, it's going to be tough to even be .500," Powell said. "We want to see steady improvement and try to build for the future. Those are kind of our goals and we would love to get some people to state."
Central had just one individual state qualifier last year in Jon Lowrance, who has graduated. But two swimmers who were part of the Tigers' three state-qualifying relay teams return in junior Andrew Moreton and sophomore Sam Maguire.
Other returning competitors are junior Tyler Thompson and four sophomores: Cecil Quinn, Adam Moore, Jackson Bollinger and Kevin Thomas. Quinn is the squad's top diver.
Among the Tigers' newcomers, Powell said the following have shown plenty of promise: seniors Gabe Keys, Mike Mercer, Eric Grable and Sean Kinney; junior Chad Proffer; and sophomore Alex Heddle.
The Tigers open the season Tuesday at Lafayette. Their first home meet will be a dandy as three-time defending state champion Parkway South comes to town Nov. 30.