A team of six will travel to Buffalo Saturday morning to compete in the 2013 Battle of the Bighorns invitational. The 50-meter outdoor meet will offer the first outdoor competitive swim experience for all but one swimmer.
Alex Bjornestad, Kacey Creed, Edward Oursler, Amanda Tracy, Nic Tracy and Josh Wright will comprise the small squad headed to Buffalo.
Only Oursler has competed in an outdoor meet before (just twice in 12 years) and said he has some advice for how to best handle the strange surroundings.
“The sun blinds you,” he said. “You need dark goggles.”
Not only does the lack of a roof let in the sun, it also takes away a backstroker’s guide, he said.
“You need to tilt your head back so you can go straight,” Oursler said.
The pool’s length will force the swimmers to make another adjustment.
“That’s (competing in long-course pools) always a big challenge in the summer time,” said head coach Jerry Rodriguez.
Kacey Creed, 13, and Amanda Tracy, 15, both said they’re not too worried about the sun or the 50-meter pool, even though they’re used to the 25-yard pool they train in at the Powell Aquatic Center.
Rodriguez said the swimmers will need to make the most of their flip-turns.
“The few turns that we have make a lot of difference,” Rodriguez said.
“I’ve done that (swam in a long-course pool) before so I’m used to it,” Creed said.
Creed turned 13 in April, bringing him up to a new age group and new pool of competitors. He said the first few months of swimming as a 13-year-old have been “a lot harder during meets because times were a lot faster.”
Amanda Tracy, Powell High School’s top-finisher at state last fall, laughed off the idea of the outdoor challenge and said she plans to “wing it,” in Buffalo.
Tracy finished fourth at state in the 100 free and fifth in the 200 free at the state meet in Gillette on Oct. 26-27. She will face Class 4A competition this summer at state.
“I expect her to do pretty well,” Rodriguez said. “Historically she has always trained pretty hard and when she goes to meets she really turns on the competition.”
A half-dozen swimmers will make their way to Gillette the following weekend, July 19-21, to compete in the 2013 Wyoming Summer Long-course Championships.
The Gillette meet will put a roof back over the swimmers’ heads but keep them in a 50-meter pool.
Creed, Oursler, Amanda Tracy and Wright will be joined by sisters Elizabeth and Stephanie Liggett in Gillette.
Stephanie Liggett, 15, said she’s expecting to feel some nerves before diving off the blocks at state, but that’s nothing new.
“I don’t think I ever go to a meet without butterflies,” she said.
But Liggett said her fears disappear the moment her dry surroundings turn blue.
“Once you hit the water you’re in a different world,” she said.
Stephanie missed about two weeks of practice due to illness and is now trying to make up for lost time by training harder and longer, she said.
As a high school swimmer, Stephanie uses the Powell Swim Club as a way to work on her technique during the summer.
“Without technique, you can’t go fast at all,” she said.
Rodriguez said Stephanie’s attention to detail will overcome her lack of conditioning.
“What she’s lost in the training part I think she’ll make up for in having better technique,” he said.
Stephanie made her first trip to the summer state meet last year, when she had no idea what to expect. But now, with last year’s experience under her cap, she expects things to be different next weekend.
“This year I’m thinking about going faster and actually beating some people,” she said.
Going faster won’t be easy in a pool twice as long that allows for half as many turns.
Elizabeth Liggett, 10, is in a position similar to one Stephanie found herself in last year.
“I’ve never been to state and it’s a whole different pool,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth said she is hoping to see a time cut in her 50 free, and to know that her training routine with fins and paddles is helping her butterfly stroke, which she said is the most difficult for her.
Rodriguez said Elizabeth is a strong competitor who works on technique until she gets it right.
“She’s kind of a perfectionist,” Rodriguez said. “She’s really a worker. She hardly ever misses practice.”
Wright also has difficulty with the fly, but said he’s using that as motivation.
“I’m going to challenge myself at state again in the 100 fly,” Wright said. “I’ve only done it once.”