Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Siobhan Gilmartin kept noticing a trend. Bozeman raced only once a week in recent years. So when the Hawks competed at the state meet, they often performed well on Day 1 but slowed down on Day 2.

Then in the offseason, Bozeman was invited to participate in the two-day Great Falls Invite, which will take place next week. That gave Gilmartin the idea. She was an assistant coach for six years and is in her third year as head coach. She recognized competing on two straight days in the regular season would prepare the Hawks for the postseason.

“I was thinking, ‘Gosh, how can we create some opportunities next year to have them ready mentally and physically ready to compete two days in a row?’” Gilmartin said. “I started thinking about looking for opportunities to be creative with our schedule this year. When we were presented this opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.”

Bozeman, which typically only hosted one meet per year in recent seasons, hosted a meet Friday, the first of its two home meets this season.

The Hawks are set to compete again Saturday in Butte, the first of two straight weekends with races on two straight days.

On Friday, both the Bozeman boys and girls took first place. The boys finished with 626 points, well ahead of second-place Billings Central’s 296. The girls (522 points) beat second-place Central by 143 points.

The schedule is designed with the postseason in mind. Instead of dropping off on the Saturday of the state meet, Bozeman hopes it will be better prepared. The Hawks hope managing the rigors of that, which they’re dealing with now, won’t be as challenging by season’s end.

“It’ll be good to get more racing in,” junior Isaac DuCuennois said, “get more practice in for the upcoming state meet.”

When DuCuennois learned of Bozeman’s new schedule this year, he was up for the challenge. He’s cognizant that the regular season is geared toward preparing for state and understood why the Hawks adjusted their plans.

When Cami Yovich found out, she was a little shocked. The sophomore had become accustomed to only racing one day a week in the regular season.

“I think it’s a little rough for everybody,” Yovich said, “just because it’s hard to sort of get used to that after a ton of one-day meets and then go straight into two-day meets. But it’ll definitely help us prepare for state just with learning how to be able to swim fast on both days I think will be really useful.”

Thinking back to last year, Yovich felt Bozeman’s swimmers were fatigued by the second day of the state meet and some were just ready to go home.

The additional meets have put an emphasis on rest, recovery, nutrition and hydration.

“That’s the first priority,” Yovich said. “As long as you’re doing that, I think you’ll be able to keep up and swim fast.”

Gilmartin hasn’t structured her practices any differently so far this season. Bozeman doesn’t plan on tapering until the end of the season in February. She’s witnessed swimmers dealing with extra exhaustion and the wear of the early-season workload.

But in the end, she believes it will all pay off.

“Fighting through the fatigue, I think part of that is the mental toughness that maybe they’re uncomfortable right now,” Gilmartin said, “but they aren’t complaining and they’re showing that they’re competing and that’s great practice.”

DuCuennois pointed out how much different practice is from meets. Swimming alone in a lane with something on the line is a significant change from when several teammates are all training together at once.

This weekend’s schedule presents Bozeman an opportunity to learn for the future.

“These meets are more just practicing competing,” DuCuennois said. “Everything is really about the state meet. That’s just what we look forward to.”

Early in the season, Gilmartin observed swimmers racing at a faster pace than normal compared to past years.

If the Hawks can continue improving throughout the winter and learn from the experience of racing on back-to-back days, they’ll be in an advantageous position at the end of the year.

“I think we have a really, really good chance this year,” Yovich said. “We have a lot of new really good swimmers this year. I think we stand a really good chance to go take home that title.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.