HELENA -- As the swimming season heads for the final splashdown Friday and Saturday at the State swim meet in Great Falls, this week’s 5 Questions visits with a couple of local sophomore standouts -- Capital High’s Maija Geier and Helena High’s Parker Keller.
The state meet will be the culmination of three months of the prep season’s (mostly) unheralded and solitary regimen of the swimmers’ efforts.
The Helena High and Capital teams train together for 10 hours a week. And since Geier and Keller are both part of a large group that also works out with the Helena Lions Swim Team for 1 1/2 hours each morning before school, this brings their total time to 17 1/2 hours of grueling training each week.
Maija Geier, a fourth-generation Helenan, is the great-granddaughter of the late Joe Geier, who helped Helena High to the 1932 State football championship.
She started swimming at age 11 with the HLST, which was also her first year of competition.
In this year’s opening meet in Butte, Geier placed runner-up in the 200-yard IM and the 100 backstroke. At Great Falls’ Stacey Frey Memorial Meet, she captured first in the 100 back and took second in the 200 IM.
In Billings, she finished runner-up in both the 50 free and 100 back, and in her latest competition in Butte, Geier was fourth in the 100 free and 100 back.
At State, she will swim the 100 back and 50 free, and the 200 medley relay (with Anna Kerins, Cassie Williams and Kate Sheafor) and 200 free relay (with Williams, Leah Baranek and Sheafor).
Parker Keller first jumped into a pool for swim lessons at age 5, but did not start competing until the fifth grade with the HLST.
He's won a couple races this year, including the Frey Memorial’s 200 free and 100 breaststroke, and placed runner-up at the Billings Invite (100 butterfly, 100 back), and Butte Classic (100 breast).
At State, Keller will enter the 100 breast and 200 IM, in addition to the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, with teammates Jacob Malaski, Robert Wagner, Christion Goetsch, Jesse Mace and Jacob Demmons.
1. Who has had the most influence on your career, and how so?
Geier: My parents, Keith and Shona Geier, and all my coaches have played a huge role in supporting my career. They’ve always been positive about my swimming, and always push me to do the best I can.
Keller: My entire family (father Kurt, mother Jeannie and brother Jackson), including my relatives, have had an extremely big influence on my swimming career, always pushing me to get better.
2. What is your GPA, who is your favorite teacher, and what’s your favorite subject?
Keller: I have a 3.8 GPA, my favorite subject is drafting, and my favorite teacher is Mr. (Jake) Spearson.
Geier: I have a 3.7, and my favorite teacher would have to be my bio teacher, Mrs. (Sarah) Urban. She really gets involved with all the swimmers in her class.
3. Were there any older teammates that took you under their wing and helped show you the ropes?
Geier: When swimming for the club, all the seniors were great role models to us younger kids. People like Nick Angeli and Avery Klungland were always amazing role models.
Keller: Peter Kotson is definitely an older teammate who took me under his wing. He also really motivated me to work hard and pursue my goal of swimming Division I college.
4. What are some of your hobbies away from the pool?
Keller: I enjoy camping, hiking and fly-fishing. I go fishing and camping mainly with my dad. We go to the Little Blackfoot and in Yellowstone Park near Quake Lake.
Geier: When I’m not swimming, I enjoy hanging out with friends and watching movies.
5. What is your favorite event, and what’s your goal at State in that race?
Geier: My favorite race has always been the 100 back. My goal for the season was to break Makayla Crist’s (2012) school record of 1:02.75, but since I got it before Christmas with a 1:02.25, I would love to be able to (race a) 1:01 if possible.
Keller: My favorite event is definitely the 100 breast, because breaststroke is my best stroke. My goal is to be under a minute.