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In this Dec. 9, 2017, file photo, Helena's Robert Wagner swims the 100-yard butterfly during the Butte Invitational at the Butte YMCA. Wagner will be one to the top swimmers for the Bengals this season.

HELENA — Helena High swimmer Regan Read witnessed the growth of the area swim teams during her career.

She estimated the number of participating swimmers for both Helena and Capital nearly doubled since she began three years ago as a freshman, to the now 78 participants going out for both teams.

Read, who has worked her way up to become one of the captains of the 40 swimmers representing the Bengals, enjoys the comradery between two teams that are generally fierce crosstown rivals across all competitive sports.

“I think it is great that so many kids want to be in the water,” Read said. “Even though there are limited gym spaces, they are committed to doing what it takes. They are excited to get into the pool. Both Helena High and Capital will have enough kids to have an outstanding season.”

Read now gets the opportunity to pass along some of her knowledge that has allowed her to be a multiple MHSA state qualifier.

“That is one of the greatest things about swimming is that you get to compete with your teammates, and you get to come together to achieve something,” Read said. “Everyone on our team does an outstanding job at trying to get everyone together in the spirit of togetherness.”

Read and her teammates work hard to ensure both swim programs continue to flourish.

“As one of the captains, I think all of our seniors want to make sure they are available to answer any questions that our kids might have about swimming,” Read said. “We answer questions, we do workshops and we help the younger kids with their technique.”

Read is one of the more highly-touted Bengals girls swimmers headed into this season, but Helena has plenty of girls looking to compete.

Franny Redpath, who qualified for state in the 100-meter butterfly, and Emma Krattiger, who swam in the 50, are competitors who look to make their way back to the state.

“I am excited about all four teams headed into this year,” coach Julie Shannon said. “All four teams are going to have a great season.”

With success comes high expectations, and the expectations are high for all Bengals this year.

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“There are some kids that I expect to get to the finals at state,” Shannon said. “Our kids work hard on so many levels. They help each other make decisions, and these state placers are outstanding examples for other students.”

The boys team will include Parker Keller, Robert Wagner, Christion Goetsch and Shawn Moore, who are state placers for a boys team that also has high expectations going into the season.

Keller qualified in the 200 IM and 100 breast, Wagner qualified for state in the 100 fly, Goetsch swam freestyle at state and Moore, one of the team’s captains, qualified in the 500 at last year’s state tournament.

The boys team missed capturing third place at the state swim meet by one point, which has Shannon optimistic about her team’s prospects.

“They no doubt can get on the podium this year,” Shannon said. “They are capable of getting that trophy, and I would not be surprised to see them accomplish this.”

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