A blend of experience and new talent has the Flathead and Glacier swim teams optimistic after mixed results last season.
The Flathead boys and Glacier girls teams had excellent performances at the state meet in 2017-18, while the Glacier boys and Flathead girls struggled to get points.
First-year coach and former Flathead swimmer Ethan Timm – previously an assistant under last year’s head coach, Major Robinson – is looking forward to some competitive racing. He said there are 58 swimmers between the two teams, including “quite a few returning swimmers” and freshmen with club experience.
The Flathead boys led the way last season by finishing third at state, despite having just five swimmers.
While 2017-18 state champion James Bouda was a major part of the podium finish, the team returns Jace Reed, Gus deSouza and Ethan Brosten. Reed had some of the fastest times in the state in the 100 butterfly and backstroke.
A few experienced club swimmers will join along with some new swimmers to add depth to the team.
“The new guys are picking it up pretty quick,” Timm said.
Timm hopes the depth will make the Braves more competitive in relay events.
The Flathead girls were less successful last season, finishing 14th out of 14 teams at state. But this year’s team should bounce back in a big way.
“I’m optimistic for them ... I’m thinking top eight at least,” Timm said.
The Bravettes return six swimmers from last year and add experienced freshmen Lily Milner and Hannah Pieri. Timm believes that Milner will challenge Flathead school records in events like the 50 freestyle.
Senior A.J. Popp is the biggest name on an impressive Glacier girls team – she recently committed to Northern Colorado and won last year’s state championship in the 200 freestyle. Meanwhile, Caroline Dye had top-ten times in numerous events last season and will be a force alongside Popp.
“Getting a top-four place at state is certainly not out of the question,” Timm said.
The team has 21 swimmers and plenty of depth, so Timm hopes to assemble multiple competitive relay teams.
The Glacier boys are in a better place this year after finishing 12th at state last season. Alex Bertrand and Riker Foster will lead the team after their state performances, but freshmen Derek Smith, Drew Bouda and Isaac Bertrand will also be major contributors.
“Last year was a lot of technique work ... we had a lot of kids who had never swam before,” Timm said.
But this season he expects the Wolfpack boys can put together a “nice relay team.”
“With a few returning swimmers that are only getting faster, we are optimistic for more points and better state placement,” he said.
The Glacier and Flathead swim teams begin the season in their home pool when the Kalispell Invite starts today at noon.