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Girls' Swimming and Diving: Is it the Raiders' year?

Head coach Katie McAlpin talks her swimmers through their next drill. McAlpin has high hopes for this season. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
The Raiders feature a young but experienced team this season. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Gerry Rupp gives the groups a pep talk after a tiring drill. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
The Raiders did countless laps Friday morning at the end of practice. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

Hastings girls' swimming and diving head coach Katie McAlpin said that she has been anticipating this season the last couple years. After only graduating a handful of seniors from last year, this year's team returns Natasha Girgen, a senior who has already qualified for state the last couple years, as well as a young but experienced team.

"Natasha Girgen is our returning leader, captain and state participant," she said. "I have been telling Natasha for years that her senior year we will do great things as a team. I know that the talent and energetic attitudes that we have on our team will lead us to a great season."

The returners are joined by eight newcomers, five of which are middle schoolers who McAlpin said have definitely earned their way onto the team. Girgen is joined by co-captain Madi Ficker.

The major change from last year to this season is in the team's coaching staff and how they will approach training. McAlpin will be assisted by boys' head coach Gerry Rupp, diving coach Briana Aarness, Kellie Dahl and Corwyn Berg. McAlpin said that having that many coaches will allow them to split the teams into smaller groups and dedicate two coaches to each team (McAlpin and Rupp for varsity, Berg and Dahl for junior varsity).

One thing McAlpin hopes will continue over from last year into this season as how the team came together in 2017.

"Last year we really came together as a team, like a family," she said. "We have proudly accepted a handful more into our family and are going to continue to do great things with them."

The Raiders start their competitive season with the Metro East Conference Relays hosted by Simley on August 30. Their first meet is at North St. Paul on Sept. 6 and their home invitational will be Sept. 8 at the Hastings Middle School pool against Henry Sibley, Mahtomedi, North and South St. Paul, St. Paul Highland Park and Woodbury. The team will also help host a meet for the middle school team on Oct. 17. Sections are Nov. 7-9 and the state tournament is Nov. 14-16.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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