BUTTE – One of the first swim meets of the season created a positive splash for three teams.
Butte High coach Lynn Shrader, as well as Julia Shannon, who coaches the swim teams at Helena and Capital high schools, came away from Friday night’s meet feeling good about the new season.
While there were some glitches to opening night – computer issues resulted in the meet starting about an hour late – there was plenty of optimism to come out of the water.
Final scores weren't readily available after the meet but this was one of those few times when it didn't matter.
“I just wanted to get everybody in the water, see where they stand what we need to work on and get rid of those first-meet jitters,” Shannon said of her Bengals and Bruins. “The kids did really well. It was what I hoped for.”
Shrader had an equal amount of praise for her squad as well.
“I wanted to see the people swim as best as they could,” she said. “I just wanted them to give 100 percent.”
While each coach has swimmers on whom they can rely upon, Shrader and Shannon have also been blessed with an influx of new swimmers.
Capital and Helena high schools essentially mirror each other in that they practice together and travel together. If one school is participating at a swim meet, you can bet that the other team will be there as well.
Shannon said that the double-edged program had about 47 swimmers last season. This year the Helena schools will be represented by about 75 swimmers.
“We had a lot of freshmen come in and we even have some seniors coming in for the first time,” Shannon explained. “We’ve got a lot of new freshmen coming in that have never swam competitively before and I like the way they performed.
“You just start with the very basics, the techniques, and get them to understand the science behind it. We explain to them the drag, the resistance and what they need to do.”
While Shrader has a similar luxury to deal with, her approach is a bit different. She has a standing order that all of her swimmers participate in all of the events at one point or another during the season.
“Because you don’t really know what you’re good at and you need to cover things,” Shrader explained as her reasoning. “If I put you in the same event all of the time, sometimes you get stale in it and you just need to be able to work different events.”
One swimmer who didn’t hesitate to take that advice was Butte sophomore Catharine Russo. The two-time state champion – in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly – swam the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle on Friday. She won both, stopping the clock in the 200 IM at 2:16.65.
Her clocking in the 500 freestyle was even more impressive, as she beat the second finisher by more than a minute.
“I was doing some races that I don’t usually do so I just wanted to go in and kind of get those done but also see where I stand,” Russo said. “I did the 200 IM so I really wanted to look at that, look at my splits and see where all of my strokes were and what I needed to focus on.
“If I’m going to continue doing IM’s I know that my breaststroke needs to improve. I took my butterfly out pretty quickly, which is how I swim it because I am a butterfly specialist.
“I knew that I needed to pick up the pace on my backstroke and get a faster stroke-rate going. My fly seemed pretty solid but by the end of it I couldn’t really look at freestyle because I was so exhausted.”
Russo wasn’t the only swimmer to score a pair of victories on Friday.
Helena High’s Emma Krattiger won the girls’ 100 butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle.
Zach Johnson, from Butte, captured the boys’ 100 butterfly and well as the boys’ 50-yard freestyle.
Capital also scored the exacta when Joe Wadhams won the boys’ 100-yard freestyle and the boys’ 100-yard breaststroke.
It was a strong start all the way around for the three teams.
“I did like a lot of what I saw,” Shrader said. “I was very impressed with a couple of freshmen that I have. One of them was Anna Trudnowski (winner in the girls’
100-yard backstroke) and the other one was Kallie Hossack. I haven’t seen Kallie swim in maybe three years. She said she hadn’t swam for two but she came out and swam really well.”
“I’m psyched for the rest of the season,” Shannon added. “We’re going to do really well. We are one team. We just score separately. They practice together and they travel together. The only thing that separates them is when there is scoring. They consider themselves to be one team. It’s wonderful.”