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Perham/NYM swimmers hope to build on success going into sections

Six Yellowjackets qualify; team has most successful season in years

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Perham/New York Mills swimmers who qualified for the section tournament at practice Monday, March 8. The section tournament will be held in Bemidji Saturday, March 15. Pictured, from left to right: Dan Kingsley, Blake Swenson, Luke Becker, Max George, Hermie Frost (back with mask), Bjorn Anderson, Jonah Bieger, Domanik Hagen, and Justin Spencer. (Meghan Perry / Perham Focus)

The Perham/New York Mills swim team is heading to sections after its most successful season in at least five years. The Yellowjackets were 4-4 during the regular season, and six swimmers qualified to compete in the section tournament Saturday, March 15, in Bemidji.

Like many sports this year, swimming had to be adjusted for COVID-19 considerations, which made the season a little weird, according to head coach Jensen Maiden. Swim meets generally include multiple teams, but this year only duals were allowed.

Changes have also been made to how the section tournament will be run. Usually, sections include preliminary finals on Friday, but because multiple sites are hosting the tournament this year, teams are doing timed finals only, according to Maiden. "The atmosphere is very different," she said. "But at the same time, we're just happy to be there."

Junior Dan Kingsley will swim the 50 and 100 freestyle as well as two relays. He had a very successful regular season, setting personal records in all but one meet. His goal is to get his time for the 50 freestyle below 24 seconds and beat the school record.

While Kingsley prefers speed, junior Max George prefers endurance. He will swim the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle at sections. Maiden credits George with being "far and away the hardest worker in the pool." He has made steady progression in his swimming career; in ninth grade he qualified for one event, last year he qualified for three events, and this year he qualified for six events.

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One of the young standouts on the team is eighth grader Blake Swenson, who qualified in seven of eight events this year and will swim the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley, as well as two relays. Swenson grew 6 inches in the last year, which has helped him have a successful season.

Maiden has coached Swenson in some form for six years, so she has been able to see his growth as a swimmer. "Watching him from age 9 to now and seeing where he's headed - it's really exciting to watch," she said. Swenson has beaten his personal record three times this year, and he hopes to make it a fourth on Saturday.

Junior Luke Becker, freshman Domanik Hagen, and eighth grader Bjorn Anderson will also swim in individual events.

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Perham/New York Mills swimmers Blake Swenson and Bjorn Anderson practice in preparation for the section tournament, which will be held Saturday, March 15, in Bemidji. (Meghan Perry / Perham Focus)

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