South Charlotte

Marvin Ridge girls’ swimming aims for state championship

Abby House and Lexie White go way back in the swimming pool.

The two began swimming competitively together for their neighborhood team, the Somerset Stingrays in Waxhaw, when they were 5 years old.

Now House and White, who are still best friends, are two of the top swimmers and senior leaders on the Marvin Ridge High swim team going for a second consecutive 3A state championship.

Marvin Ridge head coach Melissa King-Pierce also coached House and White with the Stingrays.

“I remember they drove me nuts back then, because they were such hyper little girls, like most girls their age,” said King-Pierce, laughing while recalling the duo. “But as they grew up, you could tell they were going to be very good swimmers when they were about 10 or 11 years old because they were already very dedicated. I remember they even used to ride their bikes to practice together. ... They did everything together.”

The Marvin Ridge senior swimmers, both 17, have the chance to continue their swimming careers in college. House has taken visits to UNC Wilmington and Washington & Lee University and will visit Davidson College soon, while White said she most interested in Ohio University and Towson (Md.) University.

“I have so many memories in the pool with Lexie and it’s going to be extremely weird next year when we aren’t swimming together,” said House, who also swims with White on the Mecklenburg Swim Association club team. “But it’s been a great ride and I’m glad with we have this final year together. There is no one I’d rather finish this run with than her.”

White and co-captain House will be key to the Mavericks’ success, but they are just a part of a Marvin Ridge girls’ team loaded with talent, including seniors Hannah Connelly (co-captain), Sara Maleski (North Carolina diving signee) and Hannah Marshall.

White had the best individual performance of any returning Maverick in last year’s state championship meet, finishing as runner-up in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.

Sophomore Caroline Hauder was a 3A state runner-up in the 100 backstroke and finished third in the 200 individual medley.

Sophomore Nikki Canale was 3A state diving runner-up, while Maleski took third in the same event.

Junior Alex Bonfilio took third-place at states in the 100 breaststroke. Sophomore Ashley Baum finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and House came in fifth at states in the 100 butterfly.

The three Marvin Ridge relays will also be contenders as both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays won state titles last year and return three of the four members of each group.

“Just to say you are state champion is something that sounds cool and obviously means a lot,” White said. “For me to finish second-place in the 50 and 100 (freestyle) and to be so close in races that are so fast makes me want to win even more.”

The wealth of talent gives King-Pierce a lot of options with where to place each swimmer “in the puzzle.”

The Marvin Ridge girls were dominant in winning regional and state titles for the first time in the school’s eight-year history, beating the rest of the regional field by 369 points and the state field by 75 points.

“I don’t if it’s all exactly coaching at Marvin Ridge, because I don’t take a lot of credit for all the year-round swimmers,” said King-Pierce, whose team won their first two matches of the year at the Pfeiffer Invitational and a dual meet with Sun Valley and Weddington. “It’s more of an analytical, mathematical puzzle for each match. It takes me about two or three hours to map out each match and figure out who to put where. But when you have so many good options and choices, it’s definitely a good thing.”

House and White not only hope to finish their Marvin Ridge swimming careers as champions, but also want to further enhance the program’s championship tradition.

“Last year was great because we finally won it all after coming in second to (Charlotte) Catholic our first two years,” White said. “Now, our motivation is to see what more we can accomplish together.”

House agrees.

“Winning the state championship last year was the best feeling in the world,” House said. “I know some people say that losing is the best motivation. But for us, winning it all is also very inspiring. We got a taste of what it’s like to win a championship and now we don’t want anything else.”