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Sampson Swimmers en route to Regionals

Feb. 3—It is the end of an era as Dr. Ken Yang is closing in on retirement from coaching; nevertheless, there is still work to do as his swimmers will be at regionals this Saturday, looking to bring home some hardware.

Tucked away in a small studio named Ho Yang Fine Art, is where Yang spent his late afternoon with his wife, Yang took the time to talk about his career as a coach and what his team faces with Regionals just on the horizon.

Yang has kept his commitment to coach anyone willing to swim, regardless of what school they attend as his team is made up of 20 athletes. Seventeen of those attend Clinton, three from Midway and a sole swimmer from Harrells. It has been a good year for the Dark Horses as they have torn apart the competition in the water, speeding through leaving others in their wake in their undefeated season.

Eli Hardison of Harrells will be competing solo for the state championship in Greensboro on Feb. 12 and Holden Sinclair will rep Midway in the blue for regionals.

The love for craft could be heard in his voice as he described his time in the sport in high school and college, he touched on how it's a different environment than your traditional team game.

"That's the thing about swimming," he said regarding coaching different schools. "It's like your traditional team sport. There's not really a rivalry, it's really about the individual getting better. It's about you and the clock, with no benchwarmers, everyone gets to swim. Doesn't matter how fast you are; that's why I love the sport. There's a great camaraderie with it and you train as team to get better as an individual. Ultimately, it's a sport about the betterment individual in the confines of team."

Everyone can swim but not everyone has the skill or know how to compete in the sport, with timing your breath and the fundamentals of the stroke being a key aspect to the craft. He describes one of his swimmers, Lucas Ryther whose hard work transformed from an inept swimmer to competitive in the water. Under Yang's tutelage, this crew of 20 will be looking to make waves at regionals.

Yang spoke of the technical aspects of the venue they will be competing at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. He breaks down the difference between a slow pool versus a waveless pool, describing in detail how the design of the pool will provide them a better chance at faster times.

"I'm very optimistic. I'm expecting us to much better times just by the pool itself but also our swimmers are in peak condition to compete, so I'm expecting a really good meet."

The teams will be taking to the road for the long drive, eager to dive in and fight against the clock as they race for the gold this Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.

Reach Anthony McConnaughey at amcconnaughey@clintonnc.com, X @SampsonSports or on the Sampson Independent Facebook page