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Julia Highcove swims the 200 IM in Monday’s meet.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — With a small roster and a challenging dual-meet slate, the Narragansett High School girls swim team is locked in on individual improvement this season.

“A lot of enthusiasm and excitement around individual and personal bests, not necessarily how we do in relays and big races,” head coach Katie Degnan said. “It’s more or less those individual races and working on their personal goals.”

The Mariners dropped to 0-4 in dual meets with a 71-15 loss to Cumberland on Monday at Tootell Aquatic Center. Like last year, when they finished 0-9, the Mariners will face an uphill battle against their schedule. Big success in past years bumped them to the state’s highest division before last season. They are the only program in the school playing in a sport’s top tier, and it’s even more of a challenge this year with a roster of 11.

There are positives to fielding a small team, though. Swimming is all about individuals dropping times, even for championship-contending teams, and the Mariners can really hone in on that goal.

“Because the team is so small, you really can focus on the individual swimmers,” Degnan said. “You can harp on their strengths and work on their deficiencies in practice every single night. Nothing goes unseen. We make generalizations and summaries after meets, and try to fill those gaps in for what we need to work on. Because the team is so small, we can really individualize their needs and build everybody up.”

Degnan is a former standout with the Mariners, who went on to swim at Providence College. Her younger sister, Michaela, was also a star for Narragansett. Katie joined the program as an assistant coach last season under Dave Wyrostek and is taking the reins this year. Dan Highcove is helping out as an assistant coach.

Seniors Michaeleen VanCouyghen and Lindsey Broomhead and junior Meghan Myers are serving as captains.

“They’re my three captains and they’ve really done a good job, not only in their swimming but with their leadership,” Degnan said.

VanCouyghen had the best showing in Monday’s meet against Cumberland, winning the 100-yard backstroke in a time of one minute, 17.49 seconds. She also placed second in the 100 freestyle. The 400 freestyle relay team featuring Hannah Conlon, Broomhead, Myers and Natalie Landy finished second. The rest of the Mariner points came from third-place finishes by VanCouyghen in the 200 free, Myers in the 50 free, Conlon in the 500 free and the team of Myers, Maeve VanCouyghen, Julia Highcove and Brooke Minty in the 200 free relay. Also competing for the Mariners were Anna Lubic and Helena McCarthy.

Caroline Shen led Cumberland with two first-place finishes.

Narragansett returns to the pool Jan. 21 to take on East Greenwich.

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