The Olentangy Orange High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams both finished near the middle of the pack in its first two meets of the season. However, coach Keith Sorensen said he's been encouraged by the steady progress that his athletes are making.

The Olentangy Orange High School boys and girls swimming and diving teams both finished near the middle of the pack in its first two meets of the season. However, coach Keith Sorensen said he's been encouraged by the steady progress that his athletes are making.

"We're a lot better than we were last year, even though you can't always tell that by looking at the team scores, because the quality of the teams that we're going up against means that we're still getting our heads handed to us," Sorensen said. "As coaches, though, we're encouraged to see the kids' improvement not only from last season to this season, but the improvement they've already made from the beginning of this season."

The Pioneers' girls team broke two program records last Saturday on the way to finishing fourth (132 points) in the six-team Delaware Country Classic. Liberty (428.5) won the meet, followed by Westerville Central (349.5) and Delaware (175).

Orange's 200-yard freestyle relay of Victoria Calvert, Brooke Pulkrabek, Marie Noble and Morgan Miller finished third in a program-record time of 1 minute, 50.32 seconds, behind Liberty (1:46.95) and Westerville Central (1:47.81).

Pulkrabek also placed fifth in the 100 backstroke in a program-record time of 1:07.85 behind champion Taylor Schwartz (1:02.89) of Westerville Central.

Meanwhile, the boys squad broke one program record last Saturday en route to finishing fourth (129) in the six-team Delaware Country Classic, behind Liberty (379), Westerville Central (349.5) and Delaware (254).

Orange's 200 medley relay of Brad Haney, Kevin Lin, Alex Chugh and Eli Murphy finished fourth in a program-record time of 2:05.21, behind Westerville Central (1:45.86), Liberty (1:47.19) and Delaware (1:53.86).

Both teams compete Jan. 9 in the Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State.

"It's nice to see that we're already beating last year's times this early in the season while we're still training hard," Sorensen said. "We're going to practice two hours a day, five days a week through the holidays, and we should drop even more time by the time we start competing again in January."

Olentangy girls coach Dan Harris said he is pleased with the progress his team is making.

Last Saturday, the Braves scored 78 points to win the five-team Colonel Crawford Relays ahead of runner-up Ontario (60).

Olentangy's Crescendo Relay of Kelsyn Huffman, Kaitlin Hetterscheidt, Nicole Chase and Madison Wolfe finished first in a meet-record time of 9:15.56. Its 200 medley relay team of Wolfe, Victoria Langwasser, Chase, and Huffman won in a meet-record time of 2:02.44.

"The girls are training very hard right now in this phase of the season, so we are swimming tired, as we say," Harris said. "Considering that, we are swimming much faster than we were last season at this time."

Liberty's girls team has remained undefeated thus far.

The Patriots scored 90 points to beat last season's state runner-up, Watterson (85), and Akron Firestone (85) on Dec. 12.

Liberty then beat New Albany 103-82 on Dec. 16 and Dublin Scioto 102-65 last Friday, before winning the Delaware Country Classic last Saturday.

"Watterson was missing three of its top swimmers, Gracie Finnegan, Emily Boone and Camey Rabold, but that was still an impressive win for our team anyway," senior Lauren Rosenberg said. "Dublin Scioto, New Albany and Westerville Central are all good teams, too. Those teams all have great swimmers, but the thing that's set our team apart is that we have great depth. Even when we don't get first or second in an event, we usually score in third through sixth place to get a lot of points for our team."

The Patriots did win five events last Saturday - the 200 medley relay of Rosenberg, Taylor McCabe, Alexa Kaufman and Hannah Schramm (1:56.55), the 200 free relay of Avery Portland, Audrey Penza, Olivia Bently and Schramm, Alexandra Clay in diving (255.6 points), Rosenberg in the 100 free (56.1) and McCabe in the 100 breast (1:12.09).

The Patriots' undefeated streak will be in jeopardy when they compete Monday in the Watterson Relays at Thomas Worthington. Rosenberg won't be able to compete because she will be on a family vacation.

"We have more depth than Watterson, but they have more top people who weren't there the first time we faced them, who can score so many points for them. So, it's going to be tough to beat them again," Rosenberg said.

"But the only thing that's really important this early in the season is to keep improving so we can be at our best for the important meets at the end of the season."