BOZEMAN — Mission Valley’s Lake Monsters swim team performed extremely well in its first long-course meet this past weekend in Bozeman. The team, which formed last summer when the Mission Valley Aquatic Center opened, is quickly becoming a force in the Montana competitive swimming community.
Twelve competitors were in the meet that was attended by 17 teams who traveled from across the state, plus Wyoming and Canada. Bozeman’s 50-meter pool was challenging for the Lake Monsters, who are used to training in Polson’s 25-yard pool, but the team members rallied and pushed themselves to complete the longer distance events.
Coach Mark Johnston encouraged the youth swimmers, ages 8-17, to go for events that would count toward completing the “IMX and IM Ready Challenge” program from the USA Swimming organization. The IMX and IM Ready is a nationwide ranking that allows swimmers to take their training to the next level and recognizes them for their achievements in longer distance events in the four competitive strokes.
Participants included Hannah Simpson (8), Josh Peck (10), Christian Birdsbill (10), Kilty Edwards (10), Aja Simshaw (11), Gabe Shipley (12), Nayeli Windauer (12), Elissa Crist (12), Landon Shipley (14), and Julia Maddy (17). Coaches Mark and Dana Johnston also swam in the meet to round out some relays and test their skills in a few individual events.
“When the coaches, or any adults for that matter, compete along with the age-groupers, the other teams take notice and they are overwhelmingly supportive,” Dana said. “We had moms, dads and coaches all recognize that we were doing exactly what we were asking our athletes to do. It sets a good example and it is fun to have the kids wanting to race us! We had a bunch of fun and (woot, woot!) we both set state records in our respective events.”
The Lake Monsters swim team welcomes adult and youth swimmers age 6-19. There are some skill prerequisites to joining the team and swimmers who are not quite ready for the rigor of training should consider participating in the swim lesson program. MVA’s swimming lessons follow a solid progression to develop students’ strokes and swimming technique. Swim lessons are offered for every age and ability including parent and tot, preschool, student, adult and senior.