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Tigers fill the pool with improving marks

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The Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta boys swimming and diving program had a positive year, despite uncertainty at the beginning of the season. Though not winning any meets, the Tigers improved exponentially from their first meet all the way through the season, ending with seven Tigers at the Section 5A meet in Alexandria.

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The uncertainty at the beginning of the season was due to numbers, last season the Tigers barely had enough to fill a varsity roster, but with a few seventh graders joining the squad this season, head coach Anita Nelson had 17 kids in the pool compared to 8-10 swimmers last year. Coach Nelson said that really rounded things out for varsity meets.

Because they are a younger squad, the season was tough; the Tigers lost every meet. The importance of this season was the improvement coach Nelson saw throughout the year, especially from the younger kids.

“Eighty-five percent of our events at every single meet were new personal bests,” Nelson said. “Every single meet, that’s huge, especially out of the younger kids. In my opinion, that’s what it’s about. We aren’t going to go out there and win every meet or even every event, we just don’t have the numbers for that, but as a coach to see the entire team continually improve meet after meet, that’s really a pat on the back to our boys. It proves how hard they’ve worked throughout this entire season.”

“This season, I have never been so amazed,” Nelson said. “At Montevideo meet, we had over 16 personal best times… Out of 17 kids. Again, just shows how much effort these kids have put in and that it is paying off and will continue to pay off in future seasons as long as they keep giving their best effort.”

The Tigers say goodbye to five seniors: Aaron Goulet, Andrew Scheldorf, Brett Blom, Peter Ericksen, and Vaughn Dieter. Coach Nelson said those are going to be some tough shoes to fill next year.

This was Aaron’s first time swimming, and coming from an athletic family, he did well, swimming the 50 freestyle in 29 seconds at sections.

“For never swimming before, he did very well for us this season,” Nelson said. “His work ethic is phenomenal, even gave Vaughn a run for his money in the pool during most practices. Both Aaron and his brother Joseph are both very athletic kids.”

Another first year swimmer, Andrew Scheldorf was the guy that held the squad together–He was the glue of sorts for the Tiger swimming clan.

“Andrew really helped and supported the togetherness aspect of the team,” Nelson said. “He was a great leader, and did well during the season.”

Brett Blom swam the freestyle and some relay events for the Tigers this season.

“Brett was always at practice and worked hard,” Nelson said. “He always did his best at meets.”

Peter Ericksen was a co-captain and the Tigers’ freestyler and sprinter this season.

“Peter was my go-to guy when I needed that next fastest person,” Nelson commented. “He’s a good sprinter, and could usually pull something out for us when I needed him, especially on relays. He’s a fun kid. You don’t hear a lot out of him, but when you do, he always has something good to say.”

Vaughn Dieter was the other captain for the Tigers, swimming the backstroke and 200 IM. Dieter was the only first place finisher the Tigers had all season and finished 13th in the 100 backstroke at the section meet, ending the year on a positive note.

“Vaughn put his mind to swimming this year,” Nelson said. “His work ethic and attitude really improved 100 percent from last season. He cut time almost every single meet, so his top 16 finish at sections was well earned from all the hard work he put in.”

“All of our seniors did really well,” Nelson said. “Those are going to be tough shoes to fill next year, but hopefully we’ll have some kids step up into the leadership roles and put some things together for us.”

As far as competitiveness goes, coach Nelson is hoping some of her younger kids step up next season.

“If I can get some of those younger kids out of the middle school mindset, they will be great swimmers for us next season and hopefully for many future seasons to come,” Nelson said.

On Monday, March 10, coach Nelson handed out awards at the MA/C-A winter sports banquet. Nine Tigers took home a varsity letter award.

Seventh grader Joseph Goulet was given the Most Improved award simply by amount of time cut throughout the season. Joseph cut 18 seconds off his 50 freestyle, 10 seconds off his 100 breaststroke, and 16 seconds off his 500 freestyle.

“I have never been so impressed with the amount of time he cut off his events this year,” coach Nelson commented. “He was our most improved strictly by those numbers and how much time he’s cut from beginning to end.”

Scheldorf was the recipient of the Hardest Worker award.

“I remember first day of practice, we were in the middle of a tougher workout, and I found him standing in the middle of the pool looking at me like I was the craziest person he has ever seen,” Nelson laughed. “Few weeks past, and he was finishing every single practice and doing his best to keep up and for sure by midseason, he was texting me asking for workouts to do on days off and over the weekend… He was truly our hardest worker, putting in the extra effort outside of practices. I wish he would have came out sooner.”

Tiger award went to Aaron Goulet who cut two seconds off his personal best at the section meet in late February.

“He joined after our first meet against Perham, I don’t think he knew much about what was going on,” Nelson laughed. “After awhile he started getting the hang of it, and really became a big asset to our team this season. I wish he would have joined sooner, too.”

Most Valuable Swimmer (MVS) went to senior Vaughn Dieter, scoring the most points for the team by far. At sections, Dieter finished 18th in the 200 IM and 13th in the 100 back, finishing the season with a 10 second drop in the 200 IM and a five second cut in the 100 backstroke.

“That is a pretty amazing [drop] for a 100 back,” Nelson said at the sports banquet in March.

With another season under her belt, coach Nelson looks forward to many more fun seasons in the pool, and strongly urges students that aren’t in a winter sport, but are in cross country and/or track, to try out.

“It’s a great workout for those cross country runners and spring tracksters,” Nelson said. “It does amazing things for the legs, plus we have a lot of fun.”

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