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Large Royals swim team gets back in the pool

Melissa Parker competes in the 100-yard freestyle during last fall's section finals in Apple Valley. Parker qualified for state in two events last year. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

New Woodbury head coach Liz Rodgers-Horan grew up in the pool with the Royals girls' swimming and diving team.

Rodgers-Horan swam on the team from seventh grade until her graduation from the high school in 1999. The career included the 1993-94 season when the Royals won a state championship.

Now she is back at the helm of the program.

"I loved the program, I loved all the girls that I still have lifelong friendships with," Rodgers-Horan said.

Rodgers-Horan has built her resume with about 15 years of head coaching experience, and even more as an assistant. She has a background in athletics, and she spends her summers teaching fitness and swim classes in California.

Last season, Rodgers-Horan was an assistant coach with the Woodbury boys' swimming and diving team. This fall, she is taking over a girls' swimming and diving team that has nearly 70 kids, one of the largest programs in the Suburban East Conference this year.

"I think we have a really strong, solid team, and I'm excited for the season," she said.

One of Rodgers-Horan's initiatives since taking over as head coach was to bring back a longtime tradition of having one meet a year where the school's pep band plays music. This event will take place on Sept. 28, which the team has dubbed as the "Aloha Meet."

"It will be something that hasn't happened in a long time," Rodgers-Horan said.

Among the graduates from last fall's team were state divers Ali Grinde and Meghan Miller. Grinde is diving at Minnesota State University-Moorhead this year while Miller is competing at North Texas.

But the Royals will look to experienced divers in Anna Lomnicki, Audrey Hong and Caitlyn Greenwalt to help pick up the slack.

Among the returning swimmers this year is last year's state participant Melissa Parker, who qualified in both the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. She is a team captain this season along with Anna Lomnicki, Betsy Lomnicki and Elise Roubinek.

Woodbury will start its dual meet season at home against Roseville on Thursday, Aug. 31.