Polson High School unleashes new swim team

Lake County Leader | December 31, 2020 12:05 AM

Pirates Nation has a new team to root for this winter.

Polson High School added swimming to its roster of sports, and the new team begins competition next week.

Shayna Swanson, who coaches the local Lake Monsters club team, takes the helm of the fledgling program, which has a roster of about eight swimmers, ranging from freshmen to seniors.

“It’s been an idea floating around for a long bit, and a very dedicated group of parents got it going this year,” Swanson said. “I came in after the creation as the logical coach. I was just open for questions and using my connections to get more info.”

Coronavirus restrictions will force some limits on competition. The Pirates will only compete against other class A schools — Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and Havre. And several meets will be held virtually, with schools establishing competitive times at their home pools to avoid travel and keep teams apart.

The Mission Valley Aquatic and Fitness Center in Polson will be the Pirates’ home turf. That’s also the home of the Lake Monsters, the club team that Swanson has led since 2018. She said the club members often are the more dedicated swimmers who compete and train throughout the year, while the high school team provides an opportunity for those kids who might want to simply try the sport out. And sometimes students swim for both the school team and the club.

“I want our swimmers to compete with sportsmanship first, and for the team to be a team for every swimmer who wants to be there,” Swanson said.

She identified one swimmer in particular she’s expecting to excel.

“Mason Sloan is a senior who a lot of people know from cross country and track. However, few know that he is a very, very, very talented swimmer. He has always placed high in club state or won, and is close to regional cuts. He is a great athlete and one of the easiest young people to coach. I cannot wait to give him this chance to show everyone how great he is.”

The team opens competition with the virtual Kalispell Invitational, with times being recorded at home pools Jan. 4-9. The state meet is in early March at venues yet to be determined.