Swim meet helps schools gauge growth

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
The Jasper boys and girls swim team huddle before Saturday's Wildcat Invitational at Jasper High School.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

JASPER — Swim teams from both near and far descend upon Jasper High School Saturday to test their mettle at the Jasper Invitational. It was a day filled with with splashing takeoffs, crowded pool decks and fierce competition in the water.

When it was all said and done, the Terre Haute North girls took first place overall with 630 points. They were followed by Bloomington North with 561 points, and host team Jasper finished in third place with 333 points. For the boys events, Bloomington North took the top spot with 597 points finishing just ahead of Terre Haute North, which had 583. The Heritage Hills boys swim team took third place with 277 points.

As for the rest of the local teams: the Heritage Hills girls finished the meet in seventh place with 97 points, while Forest Park took eighth place with 48 points. The Jasper boys team took fourth place with 253 points, Northeast Dubois took eighth place with 53, and Forest Park finished in tenth place with nine points.

However, for a lot of the teams the meet served a different purpose outside of counting up how many points they could collect after 24 events. The atmosphere and level of competition present at Jasper High School combined to produce a performance environment that is somewhat representative of post-season conditions, and the coaches think that kind of experience is always a net positive for their swimmers as they look ahead to sectional.

“Our goal was to get in the pool and get used to it since we’ll swim sectional here,” said Forest Park coach Rachel Berg. “There were some big schools here with a lot more numbers than we have. So it’s important to see how they measure up and see that they can compete. We may not be able to compete as a team, but as individuals, I believe we can compete with some of the other schools.”

Josie Berg stated her case for the Rangers in the 200-yard individual medley, where she was able to take third place overall with a time of 2:26.27. Berg also finished first in the 100-yard freestyle (57.59).

The Northeast Dubois Jeeps find themselves in the same position as Forest Park, being a smaller team that is sometimes outmanned when it comes to meets, which limits what they can achieve as a team. But Jeeps coach Kendra Friedman sees events like the Jasper Invitational as a good thing for the team, as the heightened competition pushes her swimmers to work just a bit harder past their normal limits.

“There’s some tough competition, but it’s good for them to get a feel of what it’s like to swim at a large meet like this,” she said. “I really wanted them to focus on perfecting their starts and turns. I had some time standards that I set for them. They did decent.”

Heritage Hills' Josh Halvorson competes in the 100-yard backstroke during Saturday's Wildcat Invitational at Jasper High School.

Even bigger teams, like the Jasper Wildcats, relish the challenge that comes with events that draw so many swimmers from all over the state. Iron sharpens iron, and one of the ways the kids sharpen their skills in the water is competing against faster teams to see where they have room for growth.

“With a big meet atmosphere and a lot of people on the pool deck, the competition is always good,” said Wildcats coach Kristen Gutgsell. “It’s always better when you’re swimming against people who are faster than you, because it makes you work that much harder. I always like these opportunities for the kids to see if they can step up and rise to the occasion. I thought we did a better job with that than we have [in the past].”

All of the coaches were generally pleased with how there teams performed, and left the pool Saturday with a better sense of how they match up with other squads in the water. Now they have to take what they learned and mine it for what it’s worth, as they look to become that much faster next time they set up in the starting block.  




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