Another year, another hot start for the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ swim team, who continue to dominate the Mississippi 8 Conference and look to be a strong contender in Section 8AA, where they’ve picked up hardware each of the last four seasons and emerged as section champions last school year.
Leading the way is second-year head coach Greg Swenson, who took over the program after a sudden coaching change in summer 2014. All he’s done since is helped the Knights to an undefeated record in conference action, sent a handful of swimmers to state and kept the Knights – who have had a swim program sanctioned for less than a decade – a program to watch in Class AA.
STMA started the season with wins over Buffalo and Big Lake in dual action, both handily and both conference wins. The hits kept coming with a meet vs. local rival Elk River back on Sept. 15, where STMA pulled out a 103-83 win.
Then, in a 16-team meet that featured all skill levels at St. Kate’s back on Sept. 19, STMA cruised to third place behind swimming powerhouses Breck and Centennial, with five STMA swimmers/relay teams combining to take first place in events.
Freshman Emma Lezer and senior Carly Roberts provide the 1-2 punch in the pool for the Knights. Lezer is dropping pool records left and right in her specialty, the 100-yard breaststroke, and also has picked up pool and meet records in the 100-yard butterfly.
Roberts meanwhile, has been the rock for the 200-free relay and the 200-medley relay, both of which have put themselves on the top of the podium.
Relays are huge in big meets, Swenson said, as they account for large points. The more STMA can succeed in relay events at meets like the Section 8AA meet (coming in November) or even the True Team meets (set for this weekend), the better the Knights will finish as a team.
Along with Roberts and Lezer, sisters Jenna Kocon (junior) and Kelsey Cocon (eighth grade) have pushed their way to the podium, both in relay and individual events. Jordyn Schnell, a sophomore, is coming up big in the 200-yard medley relay team, which broke the pool record on Sept. 17 when the Knights knocked off Monticello, 95-86.
In the deep end, diving coach Jaimie Larson and assistant coach Garrett Abraham lead a team of divers that are also contributing for the Knights. Therese Chambers and Olivia Lock have had the highest finishes for the Lady Knights, who are looking for those athletes to contribute points in overall team scores. Divers compete from the 1-meter springboard at both duals and big meets. Lock, for example, took second at the Elk River dual, while Chambers was second overall earlier in the year at the Big Lake meet.
The Knights will take part in the State AA True Team Section 8AA meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud Tech. The top two finishers from Section 8AA will head to the University of Minnesota on Friday, Oct. 9 for the True Team AA State Meet.
The Lady Knights’ final home meet, and parents night, is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 when they host conference foe Chisago Lakes at Middle School East.
Special thanks to Lynette Stende and coach Greg Swenson for contributing to this round-up.