Swimming preview: Small Hastings team ready to improve
When the Hastings girls swim team takes to the pool deck this fall, there will be plenty of room left for the opposing team.
Hastings graduated a big senior class and will have 21 swimmers on the team this fall. Stillwater, meanwhile, will have many times that.
"You look at Stillwater, they have five times as many kids as we do," Hastings coach Katie McAlpin said. "We just can't beat them. We don't have enough people. But I've never been one of those people who is like, 'We have to win this meet.' I'm always looking at, 'What did we get out of it? Did we have some good swims?'
"With such a small team, it's hard to judge our success by wins and losses."
To that end, McAlpin is having swimmers fill out some paperwork during the preseason. She's asking the swimmers to write down their goals for the season.
"We're doing some goal sheets," McAlpin said. "I really want them to focus on making goals for themselves so they can see what they've accomplished during the season."
This fall is McAlpin's seventh as the Hastings coach.
"Every year gets a little bit better," she said. "We're learning more and more. I feel more prepared than ever this year."
Captains for this year's team are Megan Waibel and Allison Frandrup.
"They are both very good leaders," McAlpin said. "They both have very good, very positive attitudes.
Waibel's best stroke is the breaststroke. She also swims the individual medley.
"Megan is very organized," McAlpin said. "She's got a 4.0 GPA and is at the top in her class. She's involved in everything and will make a great captain."
Frandup is best in the distance freestyle events.
"She's like one of our cheerleaders," McAlpin said. "She's very spunky, and very happy. I honestly don't think I've ever seen her mad. She's good at getting everyone pumped up and cheering."
Key returning swimmers include Cassie Kimmes, who swam at the state meet last year in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle.
Leah Wallace is also a key returner. Her best strokes are the butterfly and the backstroke. She qualified for the state meet last year on a relay team and came close in her individual events, too.
"I think she could make it this year," McAlpin said.
Abbie Gjelhaug swam varsity as an eighth-grader and is back for her freshman year.
Twelve swimmers from last year's team either graduated or aren't out for the team this year, making way for a talented group of underclassmen including eighth-grader Brina Kari.
There are 21 swimmers out for the team.
Goals for the Raiders include getting at least one relay team to the state meet.
"I think we could possible get two there," McAlpin said. "I would really like to get at least one team there and three to five individuals."
The season will not hinge solely on qualifying athletes for the state meet, she said.
"I would like to have a good building year to keep our team close and together," she said. "We want to stay strong together as a team. This year we have a good group of girls who get along really well."
Stillwater should again be tops in the Suburban East Conference.
East Ridge and Woodbury will also be interesting to watch, McAlpin said.