Coach of the Year: Barnes ensures goals remain lofty for Lassiter boys
by Adam Carrington
March 07, 2013 12:32 AM | 2186 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauren Barnes
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Lauren Barnes
Staff photo by Todd Hull
When assistant coach Lauren Barnes became Lassiter’s head swimming coach last spring after the resignation of Glenn Meeden, she had the boys team shoot for nothing less than a first-place finish in the Class AAAAAA state title.

The Trojans had come close to winning state titles in the final two seasons of Meeden’s tenure, finishing fourth in 2011 and second a year ago.

Lassiter didn’t quite achieve that first-place goal last month at Georgia Tech, but it did come close with a third-place finish behind Parkview and Chattahoochee. The effort was there, but the Trojans needed a little more depth — particularly in the 100 breaststroke — to finish atop of the standings.

“We were gunning for first at state from the very beginning,” said Barnes, the 2012-13 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Swimming Coach of the Year. “Everyone had that in their mind.

“They wanted it and were getting after it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way at state, but I knew that they had it in their minds and it was just about nurturing that enthusiasm and excitement throughout the season.”

Still, Barnes knew Lassiter had the pieces in place with Stanford signee Jimmy Yoder and Virginia-bound Zach Bunner anchoring the roster, and the Trojans got two individual state championship titles from both.

Yoder won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 37.49 seconds and clinched the 100 butterfly with a state-record time of 48.16. Bunner took the 200 individual medley (1:50.51) and the 100 backstroke (49.40).

The twosome also helped Lassiter win the 400 freestyle relay with a record-setting time of 3:06.12 seconds, alongside Daniel Bridgers and Zach Marshall. They same foursome were also victorious in the 200 medley with a mark of 1:24.87 — just .02 seconds shy of another state record.

When she was named head coach, Barnes also wanted to make sure that communication was key.

She said that talking amongst one another was pivotal in terms of forming a lineup for both the county and state championships. Frequent discussions with her swimmers helped Barnes understand which relays she needed to stack up with the more experienced swimmers, as well as who should swim what leg.

“It was just about talking to them and seeing how they felt in the water,” Barnes said. “It was really about communicating with them and letting it be somewhat democratic. That was the big thing. It saw that we cared about what they had to think. Being a former swimmer, that’s what I would have appreciated.

“It’s about them having dialogue and us being prepared.”

Communicating with her team also allowed Lassiter to change the lineup for state for strategic purposes.

Yoder conceded the 500 freestyle, stating that the team could score more points with him swimming the butterfly, a move that paid off when he won the event with a new state-record time. With Yoder swimming the butterfly, one of Bunner’s stronger events, Bunner instead moved over to the 200 IM and came from behind to win.

Although Walton’s depth led the Raiders to a Cobb County title, with Lassiter taking second, it was the Trojans’ swims that stood out the most.

They set county records in both the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, with respective times of 1:34.38 and 3:08.65. Yoder set records in winning the 200 freestyle (1:40.41) and 500 freestyle (4.29.27).
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