116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Ruby Martin's decision to join the Iowa City West girls' swimming team for her senior season was met with much fanfare.
A world-class performer who nearly made the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, Martin is off to a blazing start for the Women of Troy. She has posted state-best times in the 100-yard backstroke (57.81 seconds) and 100 butterfly (55.01), nearly three seconds better than any other swimmer in both events.
However, the West swim team is more than just Martin. As of Wednesday, Coach Byron Butler's squad was No. 3 in the state power rankings, just behind West Des Moines Dowling and Ames.
Butler admitted he is a little surprised by the fast start because West has a number of young swimmers who are far from reaching their full potential.
'I'm surprised because we are swimming super fast times, but we are still so raw,' he said. 'The girls are having fun racing right now and they have so much more they are capable of accomplishing.'
Martin has blended in well with the team. Butler said her work ethic and pleasant disposition rubs off on the other swimmers.
'Ruby is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet,' Butler said. 'You watch her and you see how dedicated she is to swimming. The other kids notice that.'
Freshman Aurora Roghair, the third member of her family to swim at West, is quickly making a name for herself in high school coming off a successful club season. Her time of 54.10 in the 100 freestyle is third in the state as of Wednesday and she ranks fifth in the 200 free (1:57.95) and the 500 free (5:17.94).
'It's nice to have a whole team working together to win a meet in high school,' she said. 'It's a different atmosphere for sure. I think my performances have been pretty consistent to what I was swimming with my club.'
Butler said Roghair's ceiling is high.
'With Aurora, we are working on a lot of the little things,' he said. 'You don't have to coach her a lot. She is so quick on top of the water. We just have to fine-tune some things.'
Sophomore Lily Ernst made a splash in a win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson, posting a 58.06 time in the 100 fly, which was a school record until Martin broke it in a later meet at Cedar Falls.
'Lily really tore it up in the first meet,' Butler said. 'That was impressive and she has the ability to be even better.'
Seniors Melanie Housenga (200 individually medley) and Alleyna Thomas (500 free) also are off to strong starts, both ranking in the top 10. West also is ranked first in the 400 free relay and second in the 200 free relay.
'We are a close group and we really try to motivate each other in practice,' Roghair said. 'The practices will get harder, but we know what we are going after.'
Butler isn't making any predictions of where the Women of Troy might finish when the season finishes up in November at the state meet in Marshalltown.
'Our times so far speak for themselves,' Butler said. 'If (we avoid injuries) and continue to improve, I think this team can do some things that have never been accomplished at West High.'
Kennedy edged Linn-Mar, 100-86, in a tightly-contested meet Tuesday night at Kennedy. The Cougars won eight of the 11 events to slip past the Lions.
Kassidy Lovig (200 and 500 free) and Darby Manternach (50 free and 100 free) were double winners for Kennedy. Other individual winners for the Cougars included Alexis Peterson (diving) and Reagan Linder (100 backstroke).
Kennedy's victory in the final event, the 400 free relay, secured the dual meet win. Lovig, Sarah Gannon, Ella Popenhagen and Maddie Gannon swam on the winning relay.
No. 1 Ames and No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling are part of a 10-team field for Saturday's Linn-Mar Invitational at the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center.
Also in the field are No. 4 Waukee, No. 5 Cedar Falls and No. 7 Dubuque Wahlert.
The meet begins at 9 a.m.