Girls swim team looks to overcome loss of seniors with young talent

A swimmer works on her butterfly during one of 5-6 required practices each week.

After graduating one of the top BSM swimmers in recent memory, Grace Hedin, the girls’ swim and dive team still has the talent and work ethic to send competitors to State again this season.

The BSM girls’ swim and dive team got their season off on the right foot, with a 111-72 win over Richfield in the first meet of the season.  They then had a close 91-94 loss to Bloomington Jefferson the next week, but the team still feels very good about how they have performed this season thus far.  “So far I think we are performing incredibly well as a team.  Even though swimming may seem like an individual sport, we truly do need every member to win a meet,” senior captain Maria Satre said.

The team lost all three of their senior captains last year, including Grace Hedin, who took home four All-State awards last season.  “Grace, Celia and Kelly are all sorely missed for their deck presence and personalities as much as for what they could do in the water,” Satre said.

Even though these swimmers will be missed, the team believes that a lot of younger talent, including a new diver, will fill these voids and help the team to reach their goals.   “I can see a lot of new talent on the team including our new diver, Claire Hennen, who got 1st in the diving section out of 5 divers [against Richfield],” senior captain Madison Semler said.

Compared to other sports with members who all practice in the offseason, the girls’ swim team is more diverse, but they all embark in a rigorous practice schedule once the season begins.  “Each swimmer has their own schedule off-season.  Some practice with a club team every day and all year long, some swim a couple times a week, some swim in the summer, and some don’t swim in the offseason at all.  Our practice schedule during the year is 2.5 hours everyday Monday-Saturday, except when there is a meet,” Semler said.

As far as the coaching staff is concerned, the team has gained back one of their longtime coaches, who was out last year.  “This year one of our assistant coaches, Sarah Chillo, came back after taking a year off from coaching and has been extremely helpful in coaching some of the less experienced swimmers, teaching them the strokes and the ways of the team,” Semler said.

Other than the re-addition of Chillo, the entire coaching staff does a great job of doing what they can to allow each swimmer to develop to her fullest potential.  “Our coaches, Damon Carrison, John Weidenbacher, and Sarah Chillo, do everything they can to help us become better swimmers which will lead to faster times,” Satre said.

The team will enjoy a diverse schedule this season, with some easy opponents but tougher competition as well.  “Our hardest, closest competitors will again be St. Louis Park and [The] Blake School, but we will also have easier competitors like Fridley and Cooper and tougher competitors like Chaska and Chanhassen,” Semler said.

The team is excited for every individual to contribute to the success of the team, but they do have stand-outs who separate themselves from the rest.  “Although every athlete is a key athlete on the swim team, some stand outs would be Malinda Beason, who has been training incredibly hard this year and who we expect great things from, Laura Jennings, who is new to our team this year but has a promising fly stroke and a great attitude, and Abigail [Gage] and Elle Dickey, who are swim team veterans but as always display a strong work ethic and who have been gaining speed at an exciting pace,” Satre said.

For this season, the team wants to continue the tradition of sending multiple swimmers to the State A Meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, and to also give their full effort during the regular season.  “Our goals are to do our best at every dual meet we have this year and to have a good showing at sections in early November, so as to hopefully send a few swimmers to the State meet again in mid-November,” Satre said.