MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Mankato East girls swim and dive team is heading back for the second consecutive season.
“It’s extremely exciting to be a state bound team, last year it had been the first time in 15 years that we made it and then this year we’re just even looking that much better as a team and so finished second place at sections was huge, that’s the first time in the team history that we’ve even finished top two and then we’ve got seven different swims taking place at state and just having that many bodies there is really exciting,” Greg Summers, Mankato East head coach, said.
“It’s so cool, we’ve been working so hard to get here and it just means a lot,” Maddie Hogue, Mankato East junior, said.
Reaching this point in the season doesn’t come without hard work in and out of the pool.
“A lot of heart and a lot of optimism have definitely contributed to that because swim season is such a long season and you sometimes get off track but we’ve overall remained really optimistic this year,” Ellie Kleist, Mankato East senior, said.
“We do a lot of goal talking and throughout the year it’s always what’s your end of season goal, what’s your shot term goal, what are some specific things we’re trying to fix every day and a couple of weeks ago we were talking about how many yards we had swam this season, and we’d hit the 200,000 mark and so just swimming that many yards day in and day out and then throwing in like 16 different swim meets along the way, there’s always something and we’re working at basically full speed as often as we can,” Summers said.
“They’ve had some really good time drops and they have been really putting in the effort to improve on the little things, the turns and the starts and working as a team as well, so the relays all qualified,” Lexy Braun, Mankato East assistant coach, said.
The team shared how swimming relays is a whole different beast than racing individually.
“It’s a different dynamic for them, in an independent race you’re going against the clock and in a relay they really have to take turns and put in the effort for each other, I think it encourages them even more to have a good race because they’ve got someone else holding them accountable,” Braun said.
“It’s nice to know that someone’s there behind the blocks with you and it’s like you know you’re not doing it all alone so I think the relays are definitely the most fun,” Kaylee Sivertsen, Mankato East junior, said.
The Cougars are looking to have a strong finish to their season at the state meet.
“I think we’re capable of doing a lot, I hope some of the girls will place in top eight and hopefully a lot of them will place in top 16, too,” Kleist said.
“It’s been a really exciting year and the energy at the practices and meets and just getting the girls to recognize how much they’ve improved and how much we can still keep going forward has been really fun,” Summers said.
The state meet begins Thursday at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Jean K Freeman Aquatic Center.