Coach of the Year: Barnes brings Lassiter swimmers together
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
March 06, 2013 12:33 AM | 1699 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauren Barnes
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Lauren Barnes
Staff photo by Todd Hull
slideshow
Lauren Barnes noticed one minor flaw during her first and only year as Glenn Meeden’s assistant last season. She thought the Lassiter girls — and boys alike — were too divided.

The year-round swimmers were doing their thing and the non-year-rounders were doing theirs.

Once she was promoted last spring, after Meeden resigned following nine seasons and five Class AAAAA state titles, Barnes made uniting the team one of her main priorities.

Knowing it was hard enough for any coach to pick up from the mantel that Meeden left, she knew it would be that much harder for the team to persevere if there wasn’t team chemistry.

That was the stamp Barnes wanted to put into the program her first season.

“When Meeden was telling me that I would be head coach, I was trying to think of ways to bring that team together,” she said. “It had to start with the leadership of the coaches and the leadership of the captains. They all did a good job with that and always kept the team focused.”

By the time the Class AAAAAA state meet rolled around in February, the team chemistry was about where Barnes wanted it.

Though this year’s Lassiter team lacked the depth that it had during its state championship run from 2008-11 — that lack of depth also prevented Lassiter from winning its 13th Cobb County championship in the last 14 years — it still had enough top-tier talent to finish third overall in Class AAAAAA behind Lambert and Peachtree Ridge.

“We didn’t prepare as coaches for the shock of Lambert, but we knew that Peachtree Ridge was going to be close, and we had to do our best to stay in it,” said Barnes, the 2012-13 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Swimming Coach of the Year. “We had some girls that were 17th place and ninth place, but they didn’t let that distract them from the title. They gave it all they had and I’m proud of them.”

Lassiter’s best showings at state were in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay, with the Lady Trojans taking second in both events to Lambert. They came up .07 seconds short in the 200 medley relay and.02 seconds shy in the 200 freestyle.

Jordan Drake had the best success individually, finishing second in the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 4.47 seconds.

The first part of the girls season for Barnes had its challenges. It was tough keeping the entire team together during the early meets due to the injuries, illnesses and the club meets that interfered, and not many knew what Lassiter really had until the county meet.

“We didn’t have a full girls squad, ever, so it was a big surprise for people,” Barnes said. “It was difficult. Girls are getting bad injuries and had to recover, and they were missing meets. (The week of county), we had a pasta party the night before the dive meet and we got everyone together as a team.”

Walton’s depth ended up prevailing at county, and it showed at the beginning of the meet. But Lassiter made a late run behind Drake and Lauren O’Malley, who finished in the top two of the 100 breaststroke.

Lassiter also scored an abundance of points by winning the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay.

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