Still cutting time going into the finals, the Glasgow Kiwanis Thunder Swim Team had a solid performance from 22 swimmers at the state meet in Conrad this past weekend. Out of the 22 state qualifiers, 13 swimmers qualified for the finals on Sunday and went on to bring home three champions, six second-place and six third-place finishes.
That gives the Thunder a fourth place in the A Division with 232 points, or ninth overall out of 22 teams from throughout Montana that competed in the state meet. Bitteroot Swim Team was the state champion with 736.5 points, followed by Lewistown with 577 points – the best of the eastern division this season.
Fifteen swimmers earned points for the team on relays and/or individual events, averaging 15 points per swimmer (first place is awarded 14 points). Co-head coach Irene Whitmer thinks that the Thunder might not have a big team to rack up the points, but has developed a high quality program where swimmers are competitive in their specialty and bring depth to the team.
Glasgow girls in the 13-14 age group, who have been stellar for the last two seasons, continued to shine. In the 200-meter freestyle relay, comprised of Katie Kaiser, Jordan Kulczyk, Natosha Sand and DJ Rasmusan, they shaved 4 seconds off of their first place finish in the Eastern Divisionals and won gold at State with a time of 2:10.69.
The same four girls took silver in the 200-meter medley relay with a time of 2:32.86, cutting 7 seconds from the Divisionals and losing to the home team Conrad by mere 0.56 second.
On Sunday's individual finals, Katie Kaiser proceeded to win the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:17.79, a great achievement for one of the youngest swimmers in her age bracket. Jordan Kulczyk won the third gold for the team in the 100-meter butterfly with her personal best of 1:21.17.
Boys in the 11-12 age group also took silver in the 200 meter medley relay. Tim Wageman (backstroke), Britt Fairclough (breaststroke), Trevor Johnson (fly) and Dalton Sand (freestyle) cut 8 whopping seconds from the previous week and only fell behind Columbia Falls by one second. The same crew took third place in the 200-meter freestyle relay.
Senior boys Logan Gunderson and Tony Kaiser joined two swimmers from the 13-14 age group, Ben Miller and Taylor Johnson, to compete in the 15-19 relays. They took fourth in both the 200 meter freestyle relay and medley relay.
Lih-An Yang / The Courier
Glasgow Thunder swimmers Klaire Krumwiede (middle, freestyle) and Iris McKean (right, breaststroke) anxiously anticipate the start of the girls 9-10 100-meter medley relay after receiving some last-minute instruction from coach Irene Whitmer.
According to co-head coach Whitney Billing, Ben Miller placed eighth in the 50 free, fifth in the 100 breaststroke, and seventh in the 100 free by cutting major time and beating out some of his season-long rivalry. Miller competes in one of the hardest classes with swimmers who are breaking pool and federation records at every meet.
Miller joins Fairclough, Johnson, Kaiser, Kulczyk, Dalton Sand, and Wageman as swimmers who placed in the final top 12 for all of their individual races.
Several 8-and-under and 9-10 year-olds might have not brought home ribbons, but they continued to improve and, as any swim veteran will tell the young ones, just making it to State is a tremendous accomplishment.
"All in all, it's been a great season full of achieved goals," said co-head coach Whitney Billing. "It's been such a great experience to coach a sport that I've always loved. I look forward to watching these swimmers continue to develop their strokes, push their limits to achieve their goals, and have fun while doing it!"