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Swimming and diving: Offseason work builds deep East Ridge roster

The East Ridge girls' swimming and diving team has made an appearance at the True Team state meet the past two years.

And this year, with depth on the roster once again, the Raptors hope to make it three straight. The abundance of quality East Ridge swimmers has been no accident the past few years. With a large roster and so many swimmers joining club teams during the offseason, head coach Kathy Madden said it makes a big difference when athletes come in with a training base already built up.

"If you're going to be competitive in this sport, you have to swim year-round," Madden said after a Sept. 14 home meet against Park. "It's a 15-week season to the start of the state meet. You're not even sure if you are going to make it to the state meet, so that's 14 weeks. That's a short season."

Clubs such as the South East Metro Sharks have East Ridge girls training during offseason from the high school team. The programs help swimmers come into the season prepared.

"So even if we are not all D-1 swimmers, being in club adds a lot of depth to the team," senior Kyra Bachman said.

The swimmers also talked about the drive they get while training with their high school teammates. Starting with long practices during the summer months and continuing through the year, the Raptors are happy with their ability to push each other.

"I think that it's because we have a great support system that goes throughout the whole team," junior Callie Kunz said. "So we're able to get our younger swimmers more involved and doing these hard sets and doing well in practices. When they see us top swimmers doing well, they also want to do well. I think it's a system of motivation that keeps everyone working toward the same goal."

The Raptors have a few significant events marked on the calendars before reaching the big section meet in early November. The Maroon and Gold Invitational will allow the swimmers to compete against a large field of teams, and the True Team section meet will take place Saturday, Oct. 14, at Rosemount Middle School.

Of course, the season leads up to the section meet, where swimmers try to earn spots at the Class 2A state competition Nov. 16-18 at the University of Minnesota.

So far, the first few weeks of the season have gone well.

"We feel like we are ahead of where we were at this point last year," Madden said. "We've been swimming pretty hard, a lot of good, quality stuff. They are pretty tired. We keep reminding them that it's the end result, the middle stuff is important but it's just kind of a benchmark for where we are at the end of the year."

Meet vs. Park

East Ridge improved to 3-0 in dual meets this season with a 100-78 victory over Park at Woodbury Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Both teams decided to give their swimmers a break and have many swim events they usually do not compete in during the high school season. Madden said they did so because of the workload the swimmers had recently.

"We kind of gave our varsity girls, not a night off, but they didn't swim nearly as many events," Madden said. "We've been working really, really hard and more or less gearing toward Maroon and Gold next week."

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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