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Douglas County Jayhawks supervisor Jacqui Folks guides some swimmers during practice Sunday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, hoping to help the athletes swim to their highest level.

The Douglas County Jayhawks, a club member of Special Olympics in Kansas, has had a successful fall campaign in several sports and looks to finish strong with the state swim meet coming up Saturday. 

After a successful regionals, the team prepares for the state meet in Topeka, hoping for what could be a historic afternoon for several athletes in the pool.

Supervisor Jacqui Folks of Eudora continues to look forward to the state meet and beyond, with this being the first normal fall swimming season since before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This is extremely exciting for us,” Folks said. “This is the return of swimming and of course we are gearing up for state on Saturday. The athletes are very excited.”

There are nearly 140 athletes active with the program, including 30 swimmers.

Throughout this fall season, the Jayhawks have competed in flag football and volleyball in addition to swimming, and so far they have performed at high levels while also having loads of fun while doing it. 

As they head into their state swimming meet, enjoying what they’re doing while hoping for a high finish remains their top priorities, despite having to square off versus a tough field.

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Two swimmers make their way down the length of the pool during practice Sunday, with the expectation that their work results in a high finish against tough competition.

For swimmer Jordan Mitchell of Lawrence, the excitement of getting to swim with his closest friends is enough to get him fired up to compete, regardless of the result that comes at competitions. 

“I’m very excited to be in the pool,” Mitchell said. “I’m really excited about the state meet and I’m pumped. I love swimming.”

As for fellow swimmer Alex Leland of Lawrence, keeping a positive attitude is what she focuses on, knowing that if she is having fun, she is making the most of being on the team this late in the season. 

“I like spending time with my friends and of course swimming,” Leland said. “I hope we do well but also it’s good just to have fun.”

For swimming coach Chris Reffett, coaching this group has been rewarding and exciting for him to be a part of, especially seeing the athletes thrive when they accomplish what they set out to do. 

Reffett remains amped up for this group, hoping to see good results and smiles as they continue to work and improve leading up to Saturday. 

“I really love the dynamics of the group,” Reffett said. “They are a fun group, and they want to come and work and learn. They really do a good job of supporting each other.”

In addition to the state swimming competition taking place this weekend, there are several other events that the Douglas County Jayhawks plan to participate in throughout the coming months ahead. 

Whether it is the banquet that will celebrate the athletes or other sport offerings returning in the spring, there are certainly fun times ahead for the Douglas County Jayhawks heading into 2023.

“I’m very excited for next year,” Folks said. “Next year we are going to go with all sports. We’ll have our banquet and we will celebrate our return, and we are just going to go full force next year.”

The swimming meet this Saturday will take place at the Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.  

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Reach reporter Gus Baylow at eudoratimes@gmail.com.  

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