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Girls Swimming: Wingers swimming and diving finds stability

Red Wing junior Ashley Thompson swims the backstroke during a meet last season. Thompson swam on the 200-yard medley relay team that made it to state last year and is one of three returning Wingers with state experience.

Kevin O'Brien returns for his second season as head coach for the Red Wing girls swimming and diving team and brings some stability to a team that hasn't had much in recent years.

O'Brien was the fifth head coach in four years when he started last season. He accepted the position late in the summer last season and had to adjust on the fly. There will be little adjustment now.

"I have a much better idea of what I have for a team starting out the season," O'Brien said.

O'Brien will have a young roster to work with this season. The Wingers have 10 upperclassmen, five seniors and five juniors.

Junior Ashley Thompson is one of those returners and swam a leg of the 200-yard medley relay team that qualified for the state meet last season.

Freshman Ingrid Olson also swam on the 200 medley relay team and qualified for Central States Senior Zone Championships this summer. Senior Sydney Steger is another returner with state experience.

Red Wing is shorter on state meet experience after graduating standout Abbey Schnaith. She was a five-time all-state swimmer and holds four school records.

Schnaith finished fourth in the 100 free and sixth in the 100 backstroke at the Class A state meet last year.

"I think she was a really good role model as to what it takes to be an elite athlete," O'Brien said.

O'Brien expects this year's team to be sprint-orientated with the team's strength in the freestyle events.

The Wingers have some talent within the youth ranks with eighth-grader Claire King, who made the state meet this summer with the Red Wing club team, and Carly Boisen, who also reached the state club meet.

Senior Amy Nemanich will lead the Wingers in the distance events. She qualified for the section finals last year in the 200 and 500 free.

Nemanich finished fourth in the 500 at the section meet and will try to make the cut time for the state meet this season, O'Brien said.

Red Wing expanded its dry-land training program this season and O'Brien expects it to help improve times.

"We have a good dry-land program and we're excited to see what that does," he said.

Monica Root, who works with the boys swimming and diving team, will help the girls team this season with its dry-land training, O'Brien said.

The Wingers will open the season Tuesday against Shakopee at Twin Bluff Middle School.