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Into the Deep End

by JON ALLEN
Staff Writer | February 9, 2024 12:00 AM

This fall Glacier’s Isaac Keim will suit up for Bobby Hauck’s Montana Grizzlies, but now he is setting records in the swimming pool for the Wolfpack.

Keim recently broke the school record in the 100 butterfly — which stood since 2009 — with a time of 53.86 seconds. Glacier swim coach Karen Bouda says that he has a good chance of also breaking the school’s 100 backstroke record. 

Keim has one final meet to do it: The state championship meet in Great Falls where he — as the team captain — won a trio of events in 2023. He took the 50 and 100 freestyle and was part of the winning 400 freestyle relay with Jack Melnick, Jakob Sondregger, and Xander Stout.

Keim’s father David — who formerly worked at a country club in Kansas City — introduced him to the pool, among other sports.

“He swam at that country club and eventually coached for them,” Keim said. “When I was 8, he said why don't you try swimming?”

David also influenced Keim’s decision to play football growing up, as he played collegiately at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

The decision to play for the Griz was an easy one.

“I have always been a Griz fan,” Keim said. “When I got that call to get an offer I was just stoked.”

As a senior for the Wolfpack, Keim earned all-state honors at defensive end and long snapper and helped Glacier make a run to the state championship game.

After the season concluded, Keim made the quick and difficult shift over to the swim team.

“Swimming is a different muscle base,” said Keim. “Football is heavier and stronger, swimming is lean.”

“Sometimes we have to go back and forth with the football coaches,” Bouda said. “They don’t want him to lose too much weight, but he has to lose it if he wants to swim.”

Keim notes it isn’t just an issue of weight, but also endurance.

“The first couple of practices I was tired after just swimming one lap,” Keim said. “It was a quick turnaround.”

Keim is a role model for the other swimmers, often offering advice to those who need his help.

“He’s helpful with the younger kids in getting them race ready.” Bouda said. “He has his own routine that he goes through behind the blocks and they pick up on that.”

Keim also helps to develop swimmers on the Flathead team — who practice alongside the Wolfpack and share the same coaching staff.

“It’s a unique deal,” Bouda said. “We just divide them by skill, not schools, because we want people swimming with a similar skill set. At meets we just score separately.”

Although Keim’s high school swimming career closes at the state meet in Great Falls, he plans to stay in the water for as long as he can. 

“It's a lifelong sport that can keep you in shape no matter where you are or what age you are,” said Keim. “It is good physical therapy as well, it keeps your muscles loose.”

“You come here (Logan Health Medical Fitness Center) and you see 80-year-old people swimming laps,” Bouda said. “I still swim 3 times a week.”

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