GREAT FALLS – Five East Helena swimmers made school history Friday when they became the first representatives of the Vigilantes at the State Swim Meet.
Freshmen Olivia Pfeiffer, Jillian Stewart, Mollee Jones, Amber Stevenson and Sage Tamcke along with coach Katie Gilboy concluded their first season with positive reviews.
“We’re the OGs that came before them so I guess we set the ground work for everyone,” Stewart said when asked about their performance this season would help them to achieve in the future.
East Helena is one of two high schools being added this year as both they and Lockwood have freshmen academies for their first classes in the new high schools.
The group practiced at 6 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays through the season and after the races, Tamcke suggested that they continued through the offseason to laughs from his teammates.
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“I think it’s obvious we had a building year for sure. We started without a lot of experience, myself included,” Gilboy said, who has never coached swimming but coaches cross country and track. “I just read a lot of books and took a lot of courses online and we all showed up every day and worked really hard.”
It paid off with a trip to the state meet and a chance to make history.
“We talk about it often that there’s a handful of other freshman that have gotten to go to state in other (sports), there’s one wrestler and I had two cross country runners this fall, so they’re among ten essentially that have been to state the first year of the high school so they get to be that first year in the Hall of Fame,” Gilboy said. “It’s a really cool experience.”
And even after their races, the swimmers weren’t quite sure what it all meant.
When they were told they lettered because of making the state meet, they had to ask what that was.
“We’re still learning what it means to letter. It’s a really different experience. It’s a learning experience for all of them, but it’s really cool. It’s been really neat,” coach Katie Gilboy said.
And they hope it’s only the beginning.
Email Lindsay Rossmiller at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter @LindsayRossmill.