Rangers bring 'a lot of experience' to season


FERDINAND — Turnout is higher for Forest Park swim.

The girls and boys have four swimmers each this year. The Forest Park swim program is in its fourth year of existence. Things started off with senior Josie Berg being the only swimmer when she was a freshman, and junior Ben Kluesner being the only male swimmer when he was a freshman.

“It has really everything to do with the kids,” Forest Park coach Rachel Berg said. “These swimmers, they get out there and they recruit their friends. They get their friends excited about coming, and it’s all with them.”

Berg said it’s the largest boys team Forest Park has ever had. Senior Tyler Berger, Kluesner and freshmen Eli Berg and Leo Alvis comprise the Rangers’ boys team. She said every boy swimmer has competed in club swimming before, and is excited that every swimmer is in shape, since all four are in a fall sport.

“They all have a lot of experience with meets, with swimming multiple strokes, different strokes,” Berg said of her team. “I feel like that’s our biggest strength — each boy can swim each stroke, and I would feel confident with that.”

Berg said Berger has done a great job, and is excited for what he has to offer in his second year on the team. She is excited about what Kluesner can bring, both individually and on relays, given his experience. Berg said her two upperclassmen are very good at the backstroke.

She is looking forward to relays for Forest Park this year. She said Eli Berg and Alvis were part of a formidable relay team last year in middle school, and that they competed well against the Pocket Athletic Conference. The coach is excited with what her freshmen can do to help Berger and Kluesner on the relay side, but said it will take time to figure out what the individual focus will be for Alvis and Eli Berg.

She thinks her male swimmers will be very poised, and are working on building technique, since they already have the strength. Berg said Forest Park doesn’t have the numbers to win a sectional championship, but would like to compete and be in the middle of the pack. The Rangers came in 11th place last year at sectionals, with only Berger and Kluesner competing, and being able to only take part in four events to begin with.

Berg said the biggest challenge for both the boys and girls is numbers. The Rangers’ four female swimmers consist of seniors Josie Berg and Abigail Hauser, and sophomores Philicity Collignon and Claire Eckert. She noted all four of her girl swimmers are also fall athletes, and are eager and hardworking to succeed as swimmers. The coach said Hauser is a workhorse in the pool, while adding daughter Josie is very excited to have more of a team this year and compete in relays.

She said her sophomores also know how to work hard. Berg said Eckert, a newcomer, is excited to be part of the team, while Collignon has shown great improvement from last year. She said Collignon is working on her technique, and is eager to learn more stuff. Berg said her daughter can successfully swim all four strokes, while Hauser and Collignon both have three strokes down. She added Eckert is focusing on the freestyle and breaststroke.

Berg thinks her female swimmers will be able to compete well given the experience Josie Berg, Hauser and Collignon have. She said Eckert is doing a great job, despite being new to the team. The coach thinks the girls team is excited just to be able to compete in a relay, and will have a lot of fun while doing it. She said the biggest thing her female swimmers have going for them is their relationship with one another, and how well they interact.

She said Forest Park will focus on getting into swim shape before switching over to technique. Berg said the Rangers will work a lot on underwater recovery this season, and how to swim past competitiors while underwater this year. She thinks Josie Berg and Kluesner both have a good chance of competing as individuals beyond sectionals.

Forest Park’s season begins Nov. 25 when the Rangers travel with Southridge to Boonville.


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