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Vortex swimmers head to championships

Feb. 10—A few of the youngest swimmers in Stephens County will take on their greatest challenge yet at two championship swim meets this February.

Velocity Oriented Racing Team Equals eXcellence, known as Vortex Swimming, will send three swimmers to Division 2 Championships in Tulsa, Feb. 10, and two swimmers to the state championship, Feb. 23.

Ethan Heath, 12; Cason Shores, 11 and Mollie May, 12 will head out to the Division 2 Champion Swim Meet in Tulsa. Then, Magnolia Stroud, 8 and Hank Hemphill, 9 will take on the State Championship at the Jenks Aquatic Center.

Head Coach Barbara Titus said the team has only been in existence since August 2022, and she's excited for the kids to take on their next challenge.

"A year and a few months later and we're already going to the state," she said. "I am absolutely over the moon about it."

She said she's proud of the kids for what they've accomplished.

"I wasn't sure when I started Vortex where this was going to go," she said.

Titus said the youths and parents are great to work with and the kids work hard and do everything she asks them to do and more.

"I think that we've been able to achieve so much in such a short period of time," she said.

The swim team practices at The Simmons Center in Duncan and works on the butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle and backstroke.

Cason Shores said he's ready for the championships, and he's "very excited."

"I'm just really happy and excited to be there and really proud of myself," he said.

Ethan Heath said, "It was a surprise when I made it," he said. "I didn't think I would, but I guess I did."

Mollie May said she's been working hard on all four strokes to get to this level and she's ready to be the best.

"Let's go," she said.

Magnolia Stroud said she's ready to take on state.

"(I'm) excited," she said.

She said she's most looking forward to earning a gold medal.

Hank Hemphill said as ready as he is to go to the state championships, he looks forward the most to the 100 free.

Titus said her coaching staff has stepped up to the plate to work with these swimmers in a short amount of time.

Coach Camie Halliburton said each one of the youths have worked really hard to get this far.

"For them to be able to see all their hard work paying off, it's just really rewarding as a coach," she said. "To see their little eyes light up whenever they do well — it's just really, really great to watch them."

Coach Brian Condley said most of the kids have been swimming anywhere from six-months to a year.

"To have the opportunity to go to the Division 2 or the state championship meet is a huge accomplishment for them," he said. "We're just super excited to be apart of it."

Coach Kearsty McCoy said she's excited for how hard these kids have worked.

"It's great to see their hard work come about something and for them to actually see their hard work happening and getting to go to Division 2 and State, it's exciting," she said.

Coach Nolan Price said this is a difficult sport and these young swimmers continue to work hard.

"I'm just excited and I'm proud of them, because it's time consuming to do this and I'm super proud of what they're willing to do and their ability to be willing to listen," he said. "To be able to do this, I'm extremely proud of them."

Aside from the coaching staff, parents expressed their excitement for their kids to make it to these championships.

Paige Stroud, Magnolia's mom, said she's proud of her daughter for getting to the state championships. The same goes for Brian Condley and Camie Halliburton, Mollie's parents, who said they are proud to act as coaches to their daughter and see her take this next step at Division 2.

While, Emily Hemphill, Hank's mom, said all of the kids have worked hard to get this far.

"I'm really proud of them and excited for them," she said.

Chelsea Shores said Cason took up swimming about a year and a half ago.

"He's found a sport that he loves and he's really excited for this big meet," she said.

Sarah Heath said she's looking forward to see Ethan push himself further than he ever has before.

"This is really exciting for him," she said.