High School Sports

South Mississippi swimmers hope to make splash in college

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 Harrison Central and Biloxi Elite swim team swimmer Kyjana Webber warms up during practice at the Biloxi Natatorium on Wednesday April 6, 2016.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD Harrison Central and Biloxi Elite swim team swimmer Kyjana Webber warms up during practice at the Biloxi Natatorium on Wednesday April 6, 2016. SUN HERALD

BILOXI -- Splashing around at the Biloxi Natatorium recently, the trio beamed with anticipation -- and for good reason.

Harrison Central's Kyjana Webber and Biloxi's Samantha Harris will sign swimming scholarships Wednesday to Division II schools University of Sioux Falls and Henderson State. West Harrison's Sean Dellinger won't be far behind when he signs with Division II Drury University.

Webber

Webber has been an elite swimmer since she entered high school, collecting seven gold medals and one bronze during her prep career.

The fact she's signing a scholarship is no surprise to her high school coach, Christina Dry, for several reasons. For starters, Webber's mother, Tanja, was a standout in the pool, qualifying for Austria's Olympic trials as a youth. The younger Webber also has an ideal physique for swimming and is technically sound.

"She's very streamline and efficient. Her stroke is very efficient -- she doesn't slap the water," Dry said. "When she's swimming it looks like she's coasting. That's how efficient she is. In that last leg she can kick it into gear.

"It's very fun to watch her swim with someone who is her caliber and pushes her because she will rise to that."

Webber has grand goals of finishing what her mother started and pushing for a spot in the Olympics. Signing with Sioux Falls, Webber said, is a step in the right direction.

"I'm really excited for the coach and what he has in store for me," she said. "He (Jon Maccoll) really wants to work with me a lot and take me to the next level, the Olympics."

Webber is mostly a freestyle swimmer who excels in the 50 and 100 with personal bests of 23.78 and 51.55 seconds respectively.

Dellinger

At 5-foot-9, Dellinger doesn't have a size advantage over his counterparts that Webber has. However, he's strong for his size and has a drive that separates him from the pack.

"Sean wants to do his best every race. He'll give you everything he's got, every swim," said Dry, who has also helped coach Dellinger at WHHS. "He does it for the sheer joy of going fast. Even if he was the only one entered in the heat, he's going to try to beat his own record every time he gets in the water."

A lot of men rely on their upper body strength to pull them through the water. Dellinger is more of a full-body swimmer.

"Sean has a really good kick. He's very proficient and that's why he does better than a lot of the guys," she said. "He has perfected the upper body strength and the kick. He has a very good technique."

Born and raised in South Mississippi, Dellinger is anxious to see what awaits him in Springfield, Mo.

"I'm definitely excited," he said. "It's going to be something I'm going to have to get used to at first because I'll be away from home and won't have my mom's cooking. It shouldn't take too long to get acclimated, though.

"I think I'm ready for it."

Dellinger is also a freestyler, excelling in the 50 and 100 with times of 21.03 and 46.91 seconds.

Harris

Henderson State, located in Arkansas, popped up on Harris' radar several years back because of some friends who attended the school. Since then she was hooked.

Now the time has come for Harris to join her friends.

"It's going to be a great challenge and a great honor," Harris said. "I just love to swim."

While Webber and Dellinger are standouts in short events, Harris is a top-notch distance swimmer. She does well in events like the mile, 1,000, 500 and 200 freestyle.

Jamie Lee, who coaches all three swimmers on the Biloxi Elite Swim Team, praised Harris for her dedication in the pool.

"To me, you really have to be mentally focused and mentally strong to swim those distances," he said. "Once you get in and start going, you're not stopping for 15 or 20 minutes. It's not like a 50 where you're in the pool for 20 seconds. She knows how to just keep going -- that's the big thing."

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