The 2019 West of the Brazos Swim Team features members who display wisdom beyond their years much to the appreciation of the program’s director of operations, Deonna Bible.
These members — high school students Kendall Dean, Dakota Mann, James Massengale, and Dylan Foster — inspire the West Columbia-based, youth-oriented WOTB, which competes only during the summer, with their positive attitudes, commendable work ethic, and unwavering desire to be in the water. Dean solely competes while Mann, Massengale, and Foster have dual roles as swimmers and “student coaches.”
Bible said that WOTB provides Dean a proper place to display her talents since the high school she will attend in the fall, Danbury High, does not have a swim team.
“This is her first year swimming with us, but she is very dedicated [and] very committed,” Bible told Texas Scorecard. “She’s always got a good attitude. She always shows up even if she has a bad day.”
Bible wished that the “very talented” Dean “had more options going into high school.”
“She gives it 100 percent every day,” Bible said. “She gets in the pool … she does what she’s asked.”
As of this writing, Dean and her teammates were preparing for a meet. According to Bible, Dean, who frequently turns in a top 10 finish, is adamant on competing in every event scheduled.
“She doesn’t limit herself to one or two events,” she said. “She tries them all and she’s pretty good at them.”
Bible added that Dean “has brought a whole new level of competition and awareness.”
“She’s a motivator,” she said.
WOTB is Dean’s first foray into competitive swimming after a two-year hiatus. When she was a little girl, she set a record at a regional swim meet.
“She was born with a natural ability, but she trains hard,” Bible said.
Dean’s amazing stamina was on display at an early season scrimmage meet.
“That’s the only meet of the season that the kids can pick their own events,” Bible explained. “This particular meet, [Dean] chose to swim everything. There weren’t any relays that day, but she swam every event. And she does not get out of the water and say, ‘I’m so tired.’ It was a very small meet so it was back to back to back. I asked her, ‘How tired are you?’ She grinned at me and didn’t complain.”
In Mann, Massengale, and Foster, Bible has a trio of young men who want to bring out the best in WOTB’s younger members.
Elder statesman Mann, a senior at Columbia High, is “extremely competitive” and “motivates the little ones to get more competitive,” Bible explained.
“They thrive on that, and I like that,” she said. “I’m going to hate losing him next summer.”
Mann, who plans on becoming a Navy SEAL, first volunteered his services as a coach at the age of 13. He and the other boys were instrumental in the reinstatement of Danbury’s formerly defunct swim team, Bible said.
Massengale and Foster will be freshmen at Columbia come late summer. Like Mann, they garnered Bible’s praise for working with children.
“Teenage boys relating to younger kids — girls or boys — it’s just not a common thing, but the kids absolutely love them,” Bible said.
The boys are good, competitive swimmers in their own right, she added.
Mann can perform all strokes albeit an injury prevents him from doing the breaststroke. Foster is described by Bible as a “well-rounded swimmer” while Massengale, she said, is ranked third in competitive breaststroke.
Bible admires the four swimmers’ love of the water, marveling at how it contributes toward the team’s success.
WOTB’s season runs through the end of this month.