Cape Central swimmer on cusp of title despite limited training

Cape Central’s Phineas Theall dives off the starting block to start the 50-yard freestyle during the Class 1 state championship meet on Thursday, Nov. 9, in St. Peter’s, Mo.
Tony Capobianco ~

Regardless of how Cape Central High School junior swimmer Phineas Theall swims today and tomorrow at the MSHSAA Class 1 Boy’s Swimming and Diving State Final, the fact that he has put himself in a position to compete among the best in Missouri is a tad miraculous.

Theal and a horde of other area swimmers will compete over the next two days at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, but few of the other swimmers throughout this state will have had to battle the obstacles that the athletes in this area have had to endure.

“We have actually had less training than last year,” veteran Tiger swim coach Dayna Powell said recently, “because last year, we were in (Central Municipal Pool) for about five weeks, where we could go two hours a day (of training).”

Due to the lack of facility space in Cape Girardeau, as the Central Municipal Pool (aka The Bubble) is renovated, all four area high school swim teams, as well as the age group team (River City Aquatics) have to navigate how to share the limited hours available at the Southeast Missouri State Student Recreation Center.

The Tigers have had the opportunity to train two hours each day on Wednesdays, according to Powell, due to the school having early dismissal. However, the remainder of the week is limiting her team to a mere 45 minutes each day, which for swimming, is an insane deprivation of serious training.

Cape Central High School junior swimmer Phineas Theall awaits his start to a race at the recent SEMO Conference Swim Meet at the Southeast Missouri State Student Recreation Center.
Tony Capobianco ~

“That is just not enough for what we need,” Powell said. “But Phineas has done a great job of managing as little time as he has.”

For perspective, the top high school swim teams in the country train as many as four hours each day, so even getting in half that, though it would be better than 45 minutes, isn’t nearly what an elite athlete is doing. And Theall is absolutely an elite swimmer.

Theall is entered in the 100 butterfly and 50 free races and is expected to advance to Friday’s finals (the top 16 swimmers move on from Thursday’s preliminary heats).

“He is definitely gifted,” Powell said. “He has a great feel for the water. His underwater (pull) and starts, he has really tweaked a lot of those special areas.”

Theall is seeded second in the 100 fly with a time of 51.45, which is just .05 seconds behind the top seed.

“He is solid in all of the strokes,” Powell continued, “so he has really been flexible to swim wherever we have needed him this year.”

Theall will also compete in the 50 free, where he is seeded 11th overall.

“Phineas is pretty mentally tough and determined,” Powell said. “He can get the job done. I just hope all of the things fall into place for him.”

Theall won’t be alone in St. Peter’s. There is no lack of area swimmers competing this week.

The Notre Dame 200 medley relay of Ben Pursell, Kaiden Cracraft, Hudson Dennis, and Tristan Aguilla is seeded 25th while Cracraft (200 free, 13th seed and 500 free, 7th) and Dennis (200 IM, 12th and 100 fly, 16th) will compete in individual events.

A foursome out of the Bulldog contingent of Cracraft, Weston Edwards, Pursell, Aguilla, Dennis, and William Ferguson) will compete in the 200 free relay race, and that group is seeded 26th.

A pair of Saxony Lutheran swimmers will also compete, as senior Mason Landewee (seeded 27th) and junior Tom Hasz (31st) will compete in the 200 free event.

Hasz will also compete in the 100 fly (seeded 19th).

In the Class 2 Finals on Friday and Saturday, Jackson will have the foursome of Jan Handke, Jace Glenn, Kevin Cai, and Tim Deyong compete in the 200 Medley Relay (the Indians are seeded 26th) while Wade Lavalle, Lucas King, Glenn and Cai form the 200 Free Relay squad (seeded 30th).

Lavalle, King, Handke, and Deyong will make up the 400 Free Relay team (seeded 29th) while Lavalle (200 free, 24th and 500 free, 17th) will also compete individually.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: