The Whitefish swim team is diving back into competition with the Kalispell Invite on Saturday.
Under the direction of new head coach Emily Von Jentzen, the team is finishing up its second week of practice.
Last year the girls finished first in the state, the boys third, but Von Jentzen said the focus early in the season is on nailing down the basics and setting good individual goals that will fit into the team’s overall goals.
“The first two weeks we’ve been working a lot on techniques and making sure the swimmers understand the lingo that I use — the kinds of things we need the kids to be able to do at a certain proficiency level to get started in competitions,” Von Jentzen said.
“From there, we’re going to keep building as a team after our first meet and say, ‘OK, this is what we did as a team, what do we want to be better at.’”
The girls squad is small this year with only four swimmers — Helena Kunz, Patricia McDaniel, Annie Sullivan and Lauren York.
Sullivan took fifth in the 500 freestyle, eighth in the 200 freestyle and seventh and fourth in a pair of relays at last year’s Class A State Swim Championship.
While the group is small, Von Jentzen said that won’t stop them from fighting hard to return to state-level performance.
“I definitely think the girls are proud of that legacy and they’re going to do all they can to get close to that again,” she said.
On the boys side, the team returns Alex Stein, Matthew Perez and Preston Ring, who participated in top-10 relay finishes at state last year as well. Bain Black, Kelvin Dicks, Kyiah Ingraham and Zachary Meadows will also be integral to the team’s success this season.
After an inconsistent practice schedule due to Thanksgiving, Von Jentzen said she’s just happy to get a full week of practice in before she gets to see what her team can do.
“It was kind of rushed there with the holiday mashed in, so it’s just been getting our feet wet, getting to know the kids,” she said. “There’s a lot of really good kids on the team and I think we’re going to have a great season with both teams.”
Whitefish will start competition at The Summit on Saturday at noon.