Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Glacier, Flathead swim teams get delayed season going today

Daily Inter Lake | January 8, 2021 10:01 PM

The Flathead and Glacier swim teams start their delayed seasons today in an unusual way.

They are hosting the Kalispell Invite with Class A schools Whitefish and Columbia Falls and Class B Bigfork, which starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Summit in Kalispell.

Many Montana high schools have opted out of competing this season because of COVID-19 concerns, meaning schools like Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork are left with fewer meets to attend.

“We’re trying to take care of each other,” Karen Bouda, coach of the FHS and GHS teams.

Today’s meet will technically be two meets to keep the number of athletes to 50 or less, per MHSA guidelines. There will be a girls meet starting at 9:30 a.m. and a boys meet at 1:30 p.m.

There are 62 girls between the five schools attending, so some swimmers have been pushed to the 1:30 meet to keep attendance numbers within guidelines.

While there will be five teams at the Summit, there are also several other schools competing in the Kalispell Invite, though they won’t be there physically.

Great Falls High School and C.M. Russell High School are participating virtually. They will be recording times during practice on Friday.

This is how most swim meets will be run this season. Teams will run heats during practices, record times and submit them to a scorekeeper who will compile the results. This means final results won’t be known for several days after the meet technically “ends,” but Bouda and others would rather have it that way than no season at all.

“It’s just kind of crazy but there are a lot of teams not having a season,” Bouda said.

Flathead returns junior Lily Millner, the 2020 AA state champion in 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle. Bouda says Milner recently dropped two seconds time in the 100 backstroke – her personal best is now 56 seconds.

“Lily is tough as nails, she has the competitive drive to go beyond high school swimming,” Bouda said.

Senior Jade Berry leads the charge in backstroke and middle distance freestyle and will contribute to relays with Lucy Megerth, Hannah Pieri and Kim Crowley.

On the boys side for Flathead, junior Ayden Strobbe-Berry will compete in 50 and 100 free races. Issac Bertrand, also a junior, specializes in the 100 breaststroke. Senior Conner Wride and junior Marley Miller will jump in on relays with Bertrand and Strobbe-Berry.

Glacier will roll out with some significant depth on the girls side this season – 16 swimmers, including six freshmen and six sophomores.

Last year’s state 100 butterfly runner-up, junior Eden Flake, returns. She will also compete in the 50 free.

“Eden doesn’t have a weak stroke, she can swim any event at any time,” Bouda said.

Senior Mady Toren is expected to be a threat in the sprint freestyle events -– 50 and 100 free.

“Mady has such a strong work ethic and thinks of the team first,” Bouda said. “Last year we had her swim almost every individual event possible so that we could put off making a final decision on her state events until the deadline.”

Glacier’s boys side is young - there are no seniors on this year’s team. Junior 100 back and middle distance swimmer Derek Smith was tapped as co-captain.

“With no senior boys on the team this year, we asked Derek to step up and he has helped us create a good team culture,” Bouda said.

Also a junior, Drew Bouda will swim 200 and 500 free – he made it to finals at state in both events last year.

Xander Stout will be on the relay squad and swim the 100 fly.

Per Flathead County winter sports guidelines, no spectators are allowed for swimming events.