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A/C swim team determined to compete

A/C swim team determined to compete A/C swim team determined to compete

The Abbotsford/Colby swim co-op has no problem with being in the water; it’s what happens out of the water that will pose the biggest questions for the 2020 campaign.

“It’s going to be a different year,” head coach Monica Tesmer says. “The season is so different. This year, we jumped right into the water. We’re strong, but in terms of swimming shape, I’m not so sure.”

The newest season for the Abby/Colby swim team brings with it the usual challenges, but plenty of new ones, all stemming from a logistic standpoint as schools and athletes adapt to a sporting world with COVID-19.

Swimming has the advantage of a chlorine pool, so every swimmer is disinfected the moment they jump into the water. This means that the co-op can use all six lanes, but it’s what happens on the deck that concerns Tesmer the most.

“Once you’re in the water, you’re disinfected. That part of it is fine, it’s on the deck and in the locker rooms and when you’re closer than six feet to each other, that kind of stuff.

“If there’s anybody on the deck we’ve been keeping our masks on, trying to stay six feet apart. We’ve been trying to do the cleaning of everything and make sure we get everything disinfected.”

Tesmer says she and her swimmers are following the guidelines that have been outlined by the WIAA, as well as those that were handed down from the Great Northern Conference. Tesmer says spectators will be allowed, but that masks and social distancing will be a part of that process.

“At this point, the GNC says we can have spectators, but it’s limited, so we’re still trying to figure out what our max is. We are thinking each meet might be able to have 30 people maybe? Anyone on the deck has to wear a mask.”

Other issues stem from the use of locker rooms, with each team having to share a locker room. WIAA guidelines require teams to disinfect locker rooms after each use. But despite the seemingly never-ending rules and guidelines, all those involved with the team are just happy to be back in the water.

“At this point, the girls are just happy to be back, happy to have a chance to compete and be able to swim.”

Speaking of meets and competition, those will also be different this year. Teams will only be allowed to compete in dual meets, and neither coaches nor athletes know if there will be a conference, sectional or state meet.

“In order to do a conference or sectionals and then state I think our best case scenario is to merge times and do a virtual meet. So you’d have a virtual meet or take their best times and merge them in a document and these are your top six and that’s where your conference awards come from. We’d be able to still do that, but it would be on a piece of paper.”

Tesmer concedes that while a virtual meet or a possible combination of times would allow for some level of postseason honors, it’s not the ideal situation, and takes out much of what makes a sectional or conference meet so special.

“You wouldn’t have that meet atmosphere. It takes away taper, it takes away build, and takes away your competitiveness in the water. However, ending on that dual meet and you’re done, I’m not sure what affect that’s going to have on the girls either.”

Speaking of the girls, the 2020 squad will be smaller than last year’s, with just 12 members as Bobbie Lee, Sahanna Kussrow, Erin Voss, Elizabeth Stange and Sierra Ramker graduated.

Nevertheless, Tesmer expects the 2020 team to be strong, with five seniors and five juniors leading the way.

Senior Brooklyn Filtzkowski is just seconds shy of breaking the 25 year 500-yard freestyle record, and she, along with fellow seniors Thea Fellenz, Lanie Hediger, Morgan Weber and Josie Hoppe, will anchor the team.

The Abby/Colby swim team will always have at least one participant in each event, but winning dual meets will be a tall task this season.

“I think we have all of our strokes covered at least once. We have a really small team, we only have twelve individuals. We’ll be able to fill that first row always with a strong swimmer. But after that it’s how are we going to get points and add to the team total in order to win?”

Tesmer will be counting on her returning swimmers to score points, with Weber placing sixth in last year’s 100-yard butterfly at the conference meet. Hediger and Filtzkowski had top eight finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, and Klement and Haemer were both in the top 15 of the 100-yard backstroke.

Tesmer knows certain swimmers are a lock in some events, but admits that there is going to be a lot of tinkering as she attempts to put together the best relay teams and individual events for her swimmers.

“I have lots of moving parts, and we’re going to be moving swimmers around and seeing their times,” Tesmer says. “It’s going to be a game of chess. We’re going to be moving people around.”

With so much up in the air due to COVID-19, Tesmer and the team have adjusted their goals, but they are determined to compete at a high level.

“Being that it’s a shortened season, I am going to try and go through the goal sheet with each of my girls and hope that they can achieve their goals.

“We’re trying to get them into those things that they want to swim. So I am going to just concentrate on my girls and help them get their times and then we’ll go from there.”