Carolina Forest’s swimming success follows Blue print

When Larry Blue moved his family to Myrtle Beach 15 years ago, his daughters couldn’t wait to get involved with the great swimming programs on the Grand Strand.

After all, it is the beach, right? Not so much when it comes to pools.

The Rochester, N.Y. transplant found an area too short on facilities and feeder programs to support a strong high school swimming presence in the area. Instead of complaining, Blue got involved.

“When my daughters started swimming at Carolina Forest the team had mismatched uniforms and caps,” recalled Blue, who is now the head coach for the Panthers boys and girls teams. “I volunteered to help when the coach couldn’t make it to a state meet one year and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Blue wanted to see his daughters, four-time state champion Rachel and Meagan Blue, compete for state finalists in their high school years, but he stayed on the job after they graduated. More than a decade after taking the plunge as head coach, he leads Carolina Forest into Saturday’s region meet as one of the top programs in the Lower State.

“The school gave me a lot of freedom, which is unique for someone who does not work at the school,” said Blue, who works for AVX in Myrtle Beach. “We’ve been able to raise money to buy things the program needs to be successful without costing the school almost anything. It’s come a long way.”

One of the biggest road blocks was the lack of facilities in the area. At the time, Myrtle Beach’s “Pepper” Geddings Recreation Center was one of the few local pools capable of hosting a high school meet and it was in such demand that it was nearly impossible for local teams to find places to practice and hold meets.

Blue worked with Coastal Carolina University closely in the construction of its swimming facility, where the Panthers host the Ripley’s Aquarium-sponsored tournament that brings in teams from all over the state. He also raise funds to purchase special timing equipment for use at places like North Myrtle Beach’s new aquatic center, where the region meet will be held Saturday.

But Blue has done more than just help the Panthers’ program. His efforts have resulted in more opportunities for all Grand Strand schools, and the swimming programs that did not exist or barely existed at all – such as rivals Socastee, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and St. James – will compete for region titles this weekend.

“A lot of the larger cities like Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia and even Charleston have had stronger programs for a longer period of time mainly because of facilities,” Blue said. “We’ve closed the gap there a little bit, but we still have a long way to go. I believe this area should be one of the strongest in the state.”

Grand Strand programs will try to show just how far they’ve come Saturday when 13 teams converge on the area looking to punch their team and individual tickets to the state. The Carolina Forest girls program is the favorite, having won a combined nine Region 3A and 4A titles since the regional meets began in this area.

The Lady Panthers have a historic regular-season record of 313-24 for a .923 winning average. Led this season by senior Courtney Porfilio, juniors Bri Strang and Ann Morgan Fallow and freshmen Lexi Salice and Michaela Ryhal, Carolina Forest stand a strong chance of representing the region in next week’s state meet.

The Carolina Forest boys are in a “transition year,” according to Blue, but he also takes pride in seeing other local programs grow to compete for region and state titles. The Socastee boys and North Myrtle Beach girls are among the heavy contenders entering Saturday’s competition, which should show just how far the sport has come on the Grand Strand.

“We understand that our kids are swimmers. They’re not football players or baseball players so they don’t get the recognition of other sports and that’s fine,” Blue said. “But these kids work just as hard as any other athletes and they deserve every opportunity to succeed in their sport. It’s rewarding to see them getting it.”

 

Panthers power up, push through for region crown

Panthers power up, push through for region crownLong before Carolina Forest’s volleyball team clinched another region championship, [more]

Infamous red Jeep back in national spotlight at CMS

Infamous red Jeep back in national spotlight at CMSJust when you thought it was safe to go back [more]

Coast FA holds free soccer ball giveaway

Coast FA holds free soccer ball giveawayYou've heard of taking a free kick in soccer, but [more]

Panthers take region title, four local teams advance

Panthers take region title, four local teams advanceThe Carolina Forest girls golf team captured the Region 6-5A [more]

NMB nips rival MB by one stroke to win region crown

NMB nips rival MB by one stroke to win region crownMonday's Region 6-4A girls golf tournament came down to a [more]

Record crowd sees Chants fall short to Georgia State

Record crowd sees Chants fall short to Georgia StateCoastal Carolina football held the Georgia State Panthers scoreless in [more]

Region 6-5A: Tigers top Braves; Panthers rip SF

Region 6-5A: Tigers top Braves; Panthers rip SFConway appeared to find its identity last week, pummeling West [more]

Region 6-4A: Chiefs suffer first defeat; MB dominates

Region 6-4A: Chiefs suffer first defeat; MB dominatesZayshaun Rice faked a pop pass to a receiver streaking [more]

Thursday Wrapup: MB golf, CF volleyball edge rivals

Thursday Wrapup: MB golf, CF volleyball edge rivalsThe Carolina Forest volleyball team's quest to complete an undefeated [more]

Seahawks QB Doty finalist for elite title of Mr. Football

Seahawks QB Doty finalist for elite title of Mr. Football Luke Doty is already considered one of the best quarterbacks [more]

Tuesday Roundup: NMB, CF sweep on Senior Night

Tuesday Roundup: NMB, CF sweep on Senior NightThe North Myrtle Beach volleyball team celebrated its Senior Night [more]

Edwards making his mark in Gamecock record book

Edwards making his mark in Gamecock record bookBefore Bryan Edwards was breaking records at South Carolina. Before [more]

BUFC, Coast teams prevail at Great Carolina Shootout

BUFC, Coast teams prevail at Great Carolina ShootoutThe Beach United Football Club crowned a pair of champions [more]

Region 6-5A: Tigers light up Knights; Panthers roll

Region 6-5A: Tigers light up Knights; Panthers rollConway returned to its roots Friday night and used a [more]

Region 6-4A: Seahawks, Chiefs dominate debuts

Region 6-4A: Seahawks, Chiefs dominate debutsMany high school quarterbacks would consider what Luke Doty has [more]

Chiefs using top tourneys to prep for 4A title defense

Chiefs using top tourneys to prep for 4A title defenseThe defending Class 4A state champion North Myrtle Beach volleyball [more]

Thursday Roundup: Region hot streak continues for CF

Thursday Roundup: Region hot streak continues for CFThe Carolina Forest volleyball team, unbeaten in Region 6-5A play, [more]

Carolina Forest swim team sweeps region meet titles

Carolina Forest swim team sweeps region meet titlesCarolina Forest High School's boys and girls swim teams bested [more]

Monday Roundup: Gray, NMB see close seconds

Monday Roundup: Gray, NMB see close secondsFor the second straight week the North Myrtle Beach volleyball [more]

Mountaineers manhandle Chants in Sun Belt opener

Mountaineers manhandle Chants in Sun Belt openerThe Coastal Carolina football team suffered a 56-37 loss at [more]

Week 5: Braves end skid; MB wins ugly Victory Bell

Week 5: Braves end skid; MB wins ugly Victory BellHow do you know when you have a pretty good [more]

Carolina Forest swimmers sweep in regional tuneup

Carolina Forest swimmers sweep in regional tuneupWith the SCHSL regional meets less than one week away, [more]

Thursday Roundup: CF, NMB volleyball stay hot

Thursday Roundup: CF, NMB volleyball stay hotThe Carolina Forest volleyball team capped a hectic week with [more]

Coastal soccer's Docking reaches 300-win milestone

Coastal soccer's Docking reaches 300-win milestoneIn 1997, the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team was 4-2 [more]

Despite loss, Panthers run into top 10 of 5A rankings

Despite loss, Panthers run into top 10 of 5A rankingsCarolina Forest, welcome to the party. The Panthers’ football team, for [more]

Panthers power up, push through for region crown

Panthers power up, push through for region crownLong before Carolina Forest’s volleyball team clinched another region championship, [more]

Infamous red Jeep back in national spotlight at CMS

Infamous red Jeep back in national spotlight at CMSJust when you thought it was safe to go back [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2019 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach