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Panther swimmers keep getting faster

With the boys’ swim season past its half-way point, the focus of swimmers is changing from qualifying to improving personal best times.

Eight Powell Panthers recorded new personal bests and one added his name to the list of qualifiers Saturday during Powell’s third-place finish in the Worland Invitational.

Assistant Coach Jerry Rodriguez said he is impressed with his team’s performance, especially considering his team has increased its training recently.

The Panthers had two-a-day practices four days last week, including Tuesday before the Powell Triangular. Using a common method known as “tapering,” Rodriguez is trying to have his swimmers peak at the conference and state championships by adding physical stress now, only to reduce it as his team approaches the final meets.

“It worked really well for the ones willing to take on the challenge,” Rodriguez said. “They don’t know how far they can push themselves so it’s our job as coaches to show them they can do seemingly impossible things.”

Most of the swimmers who were going to qualify in their events this season already have, but for junior Dan Liggett, it was better late than never.

In his only second time swimming the event Liggett qualified in the 500 free with a time of 6:18.81, an 8.7 second improvement from his performance in the same event last Tuesday during the Powell Triangular.

Coach Rodriguez said the first time swimmers race in the long-distance event, they don’t know how fast to swim. Rodriguez said Liggett learned from his first try and improved greatly the second time around.

“He cut quite a bit of time, more than I expected him to do,” Rodriguez said.

The Panthers boasted only one event winner in Worland. Senior Jarred LaPierre claimed the 500 free with a time of 5:26.08, narrowly beating Rawlins’ Aidan Cain by .67 seconds. LaPierre was the runner-up in the 200 free, where he placed a personal best time of 2:01.70.

Sophomores Billy Baker and Alex Bjornestad trimmed times in two events each. Baker cut .51 seconds in the 100 free for a new best of 57.82, and .73 in the 100 back for a new best of 1:04.76. Bjornestad’s time of 1:04.86 is a .47 second improvement in the 100 back and his 2:29.69 is a cut .26 seconds in the 200 IM.

Senior Matt Riedhammer cut nearly a full second off his 100 breast time, swimming .95 seconds faster for a time of 1:18.90.

Junior Edward Oursler also cut time in the 100 breast, improving by .38 seconds to get his time down to 1:13.45, good for ninth-place in Worland. He finished fifth in the 200 free, an event that featured three Panthers in the top five, with LaPierre in second and sophomore Ben Wetzel in third.

Junior Nic Tracy inched closer to the 4A qualifying time in the 100 free, earning fourth place with a time of 55.48 Saturday, a 2.05 second improvement. Tracy finished third in the 100 back, in which he has already qualified with a 4A time.

Junior Quin Wetzel was 10th in the 100 fly, finishing in 1:07.70 and besting his previous best by 1.02 seconds. Wetzel also finished eighth in diving, one place behind teammate Jake Magill.

Freshman Seth Fuller cut .62 seconds off his 3A qualifying time in the 100 back, now at 1:10.69, good for 16th place Saturday. He also cut 3.5 seconds off of his 200 IM time, taking 19th place in 2:40.99.

Powell’s 200 free relay team of Oursler, Tracy, LaPierre and junior Jakob Bowers swam a season-best time to take third place. The team was just .4 seconds behind second place Lander and 1.36 seconds behind first-place Riverton.

Twelve of the current roster’s 17 swimmers have qualified in at least one event.

Oursler and Quin Wetzel lead the team with eight events each. Tracy and Ben Wetzel have qualified in seven events. LaPierre has qualified in six. Bowers and Bjornestad have qualified in five apiece. Baker has qualified in four. Senior Matt Riedhammer has qualified in two, while Liggett, junior Jake Magill and Fuller have all collected one qualification each.

Powell finished behind the victorious Lander Tigers and second-place Buffalo Bison.

The Panthers travel to Lander on Saturday for the Lander Invitational.

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