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Boys Swimming: Wingers have a little fun at final home meet

Red Wing senior Tanner Alms reacts after setting a pool record in the 100-yard freestyle against Simley Saturday at Twin Bluff Middle School. Alms won the race and set the record with a time of 47.99 seconds. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing's Dan O'Keefe performs the backstroke while holding a snowman during the exhibition snowman relay race between the Wingers and Simley Saturday at Twin Bluff Middle School. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

Saturday’s 101-83 home loss to Simley has hardly a somber home finale for the Red Wing boys swimming and diving team.

Although the two are Section 1A opponents, the Wingers and Spartans have become good friends over the years. And as both teams competed in their final dual meet of the season, the teams ended the meet with their own unique relay: the snowman relay.

Grabbing snow from outside Twin Bluff Middle School, the teams quickly built handheld snowman and swam laps in the pool in a battle of endurance to see whose snowman would last the longest.

It was a fitting finale for what has become a friendly rivalry.

“We started the snowman tradition last year at Simley. It was a lot of fun and a big hit” said Red Wing head coach Kevin O’Brien. “The boys get along really well, so it’s fun to do this kind of stuff for both of our last dual of the year.”

During the competition Saturday, the Wingers knew Simley’s depth would likely be the deciding factor, and in the final home meet of the year, O’Brien decided to let his team have fun with it.

“I let the seniors choose to have the team set up their events and I’d put them in the best I could,” O’Brien said. “We swam a lot of meets where they were in their best events, so they didn’t get to swim much else. This was a nice break for them to choose.”

And it would be the Wingers’ senior co-captains who got to shine in their final home meet, starting with Tanner Alms. Opting to stay out of the race that has made him a three-time state champion, the 500-yard freestyle, Alms went on to set two pool records on Saturday.

The first came in the 200 individual medley, where Alms’ time of 2 minutes, 0.11 seconds broke the previous pool record of 2:01.28, set in 2005. Then in the 100 free, Alms swam a time of 47.99 to break the previous record of 48.41, set in 2003.

“He’s swimming really fast and really hard. He did over 6,000 yards in practice (Friday), and he’s still able to pull off these two pool records,” O’Brien said of Alms. “He’s really driven right now and for good reason. He’s working hard and he should have a good end-of-the-year swim.”

Red Wing senior Dan O’Keefe also took home a first-place finish in the 50 free with a time of 23.97. O’Keefe held off the Spartans’ Michael Ausen by .11 seconds for the win.

Nolan Schmidt joined his fellow co-captains in victory after taking first in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.21. In that race, teammate Calvin Roth took second at 1:02.19.

Red Wing had two relays finish in first place Saturday. The 200 free relay team of Alms, O’Keefe, Ben Schaffer and Schmidt won with a time of 1:35.65. Then in the final race of the meet, the 400 free relay team of Garrett Welsch, Chris Byrne, Roth and Alms won at 3:30.55, holding off Simley’s top relay team by .63 seconds.

On Feb. 8, Red Wing heads to Farmington to compete in the Missota Conference championship meet. Then on Feb. 20 and 22, the Wingers will compete at the Section 1A championship at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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