McDERMOTT — Want to build a swimming program?
Look no further than two locals who have been around the water — and have made it a primary sport throughout their lives.
Northwest High School graduates Hanna Tackett and Josie Tackett, who stood out as swimming hands under their mother Michelle, are ready to contribute in a major way with the Shawnee State swimming program.
The duo will be two of 11 new swimmers to be a part of the SSU women’s swimming roster during the 2020-21 academic year.
“I love swimming, so being able to continue my passion for the sport here at SSU means more than words can describe,” Hanna said. “It’s an honor to be a part of the first-ever swim team at Shawnee State, and we are both really blessed to have this opportunity.”
“It has meant a lot to me,” Josie said. “I have always wanted to swim in college, and I am still amazed that I am on a college sports team. I was very excited to find out that SSU was going to get a swim team, and it made my day. I am glad to be a part of the SSU swimming program and am so excited for our first swim season. I love spending my time with teammates and practicing with them. Being a part of the first SSU swimming program is truly amazing. Lastly, I’m just excited to be able to attend SSU. It is truly a great school.”
At Northwest, the Tacketts proved to be excellent contributors as their mother attempted to build the swimming program.
In 2017 and 2018, Josie won back-to-back Division II Southeast District sectional championships, placing first in the 100-yard fly with a 1:05.79 as a junior and adding in a 5:56.05 in the 500-yard freestyle as a senior.
While Josie won two titles as a high school swimmer, Hanna was busy making her own mark.
As a junior in 2018, the latter won the 200-yard freestyle championship with a mark of 2:08.14.
The duo — according to CollegeSwimming.com — racked up 10 top-five finishes competing in the 500-yard freestyle, the 100-yard fly, the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard freestyle.
In addition to its accomplishments from a swimming standpoint, the pair also participated in numerous extracurricular activities.
Both Josie and Hanna participated in track and field all four years at Northwest, were members of the school’s Quiz Bowl, FFA and Honors groups, and participated in 4-H as well as Scioto County Junior Fair Board.
Additionally, both Josie and Hanna continue to be active members as part of the Unity Fair Gospel Youth Group.
“Competing and swimming at Northwest were some of my favorite memories in my high school career,” Hanna said. “During all four years of my swimming career, I had at least one of my siblings competing as well, creating for an awesome atmosphere filled with competition and laughter.”
“It was very fun, yet hard, competing for Northwest,” Josie said. “My sister and I went to multiple practices each day, and it was always very interesting and fun. Our Northwest practices were pretty hard at times, and we always tried to put in as much effort as we could. I could not be the swimmer that I am today without my coaches trying and helping me to get better as a swimmer. I also couldn’t have done this without my friends, teammates and siblings, who were always by my side to push me to be my best.”
Having Michelle as their ultimate supporter has also helped.
Along with Portsmouth, Northwest has regularly maintained high participation numbers in its swimming program — due in large part to both Tackett’s efforts as a coach and her inclusive attitude as a whole.
“It was very outgoing and fun,” Josie said. “Our Mom has been with us from our first swim team which was in 2006. She has seen many types of coaching and how practices make a difference in the end. She is a dedicated coach who believes in anyone who wants to put themselves out there to swim.”
“It was awesome,” Hanna said. “We started swimming at a very young age, and she attended just above every practice and meet. So with the knowledge in how we both train and compete, she was able to make workouts that both benefited the team and motivated us to do better. Looking back, we wouldn’t be where we are today. So I am extremely thankful for both of my parents and everything that they have done to push us to be our best.”
With Gerald Cadogan, both Josie and Hanna see a similar motivator.
In fact, the pair have known and admired Cadogan for several years now, after seeing how encouraging Shawnee State’s first-year head swimming coach was to fellow competitors.
In addition to those facts, the pair has also admired Cadogan’s willingness to do everything in his power to learn as much as he can about not only his student-athletes, but swimming techniques that will help his swimmers going forward.
“I got to know Gerald through high school swimming,” Josie said. “He was a dedicated coach who always tried to encourage others, even from different teams. He would come up to me after some of my races and tell me, ‘Good job.’ That’s how I know Gerald.”
“I have known Gerald since middle school,” Hanna said. “We swam for Northwest, and Gerald coached Portsmouth at the time, so we got to know each other at swim meets over the years. He has always been extremely nice to our team and willing to do anything in his abilities to help his swimmers. I can tell that he has a love for swimming and wants to learn everything that there is to know about the sport. In my book, that means a lot.”
For both individuals, their goals going forward are to continue to raise awareness about the sport of swimming in their hometowns — while continuing to grow the SSU swimming program, and the athletic department, as a whole.
“I hope to make it known that SSU has a swimming program around the nation,” Josie said. “In general, I hope to maintain my grades, to try my hardest, and to help anyone that I can. I want to help incoming classes as well, because we were once in their shoes and we all have felt confused about our direction and where we’ve wanted to go at times. I hope to help out not just swimming, but other sports as well. I’m looking forward to the swimming season and hope to make a mark in the program.”
“I hope to create a strong foundation for the team to build on as our program grows,” Hanna said. “I want to represent SSU to the best of my ability, and show my passion for the sport. My plan at SSU, in general, is to get my bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and go into the medical field.”