Lake Norman & Mooresville

Freshman duo make a splash for Blue Devils

The arrival of a freshman duo has given new life to the Mooresville swim team.

Adrian Jarding and John Donelson have made an immediate impact for the Blue Devils, combining to break seven school records this season.

"They've just blown me out of the water with how hard they've pushed and how hard they've pushed the other guys," said Mooresville swimming coach Heidi Williams.

Jardin, 14, admits that he's been surprised and excited by his performance.

"I've done much better than I expected," he said. "I though it would maybe take until my sophomore or junior year to make an impact, break a couple of records."

Donelson, 15, agrees, adding that his only goal was to keep up with his fellow SwimMAC club swimmers this season.

"I've done more than that," said Donelson. "So that's good."

He and Jarding each broke two individual Blue Devil records.

Donelson now holds the 50- and 100-yard freestyle records with times of 24.12 and 53.61, respectively.

Jarding holds the school's best times in the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle. His 2:10.43 in the 200 IM was nearly nine seconds faster than the previous record, while his 500 free time of 5:07.90 broke the previous mark of 6:00.00 that had stood since 1999.

Along with seniors Aaron Gunning and Chase Brisendine, the duo also helped break the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay records. Donelson and Jarding were also part of the group, which also featured Brisendine and junior Taylor Pechuekonis, that broke the 200-yard medley relay record.

The freshmen admit that competing against older swimmers at meets has been a challenge in their first year of high school competition.

"It's such a big jump," said Jarding. "Being year-round swimmers, we always race kids within our age group, so we aren't used to it."

Donelson added: "It's also pretty intimidating when you're in lanes next to people that will be at Division I schools next year."

Williams said both Donelson and Jarding have a strong competitive nature, even if Jarding is more vocal and Donelson is more composed before races.

"They're outstanding," said Williams. "I love their personalities on the team and what they contribute. They mash well with all the other boys."

Williams added that she was impressed by the duo's work ethic, as they would come to practice for their relays even after working out with SwimMAC for hours beforehand.

Donelson said he doesn't mind putting in the work.

"Swimming is a sport where you get out of it what you put into it - how much time you spend in the pool reflects in your race times," he said. "You have to keep dedicated."

Williams said that Donelson and Jarding's competitiveness has also made other swimmers on the team step up.

"Having them on the team has pushed the seniors and the juniors," said Williams. "They can't have a freshman whoop them in practice. They go harder. It's created a good internal competition."

The small Mooresville swimming program, which only features six boys and 12 girls on its roster, has overachieved this season. The boys were 9-6 this year and finished fifth at the I-Meck conference meet and sixth at the Iredell County meet, while the girls had an 8-7 record while finishing sixth at the I-Meck meet and fourth at the county meet.

"We're a small team, so I can't base success on wins and losses," said Williams. "When we go against the Houghs and Lake Normans, they're going to beat us purely on numbers."

Donelson agreed.

"We're just outnumbered," he said. "But we're doing the best with what we have."

The Blue Devils did just that, qualifying 12 swimmers and first-year competitive diver Ashley Rabuck to last weekend's regionals.

Williams explained that having year-round swimmers in Donelson and Jarding on the team has brought the team some recognition, which is something the small team has lacked.

"So many people know John and Adrian that they're making a name for the program," she said. "I've heard more people saying 'I want to give this a go.' If anything else, getting the numbers up will be a big boost."

Having had the opportunity to build momentum this season, Williams is excited about Donelson and Jarding's future for the Devils.

"They've had time to shine," said Williams. "The confidence that that's given them as freshmen will carry into the next three years."

The duo is also excited about their rest of their time at Mooresville.

"It was a great freshman year and we're definitely going to grow off of it and try to get better as the years come," said Jarding.