Chanhassen started off the girls’ conference swimming and diving season with a bang.
Avery Luedke set a pool record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.58 as the Storm topped next-door neighbor Chaska 119-67 at Pioneer Ridge Middle School Sept. 15.
“It’s fun to have some friendly competition and be able to just race other best friends that aren’t on the same high school team,” junior Allie Isenburg said.
Luedke also won the 200 IM (2:13.60). Jennifer Pierson won the 200 (1:59.27) and 500 freestyle (5:24.70), while Rachel Broadhead won the 50 (26.53) and 100 freestyle (56.79). The Storm also swept the relays, winning the 200 medley, 200 and 400 freestyle.
The season has come with changes at the top of the program, as StormHawks boys’ head coach Joe Mau took over as head coach for the Storm girls’ this season. Early in the fall, many athletes have been receptive to their new coach.
“You can tell when you talk to him how passionate he is about coaching and about swimming and I think that’s really important,” Isenburg said at the beginning of the season. “He’s very motivational as well and even before some sets in practice when he can tell all of us are really tired, he’ll give us a little speech and hype us up. So I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like at meets.”
One aspect that Mau is bringing to the team is the season-long approach of swimmers rotating through different events rather than focusing on a few specific events every meet. Many athletes have voiced their excitement for how the approach can prepare them for late in the season.
Junior Jennifer Pierson, for example, enjoys doing the 50 and 100 freestyle as well as the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, but she said she is more than happy to be placed in any event to compete and help the team.
“This year it’s great to rotate around so I don’t get burned out on my favorite events and that they stay my favorite events,” Pierson said.
Mau said the goal of this strategy is to prevent burnout and foster success in athlete’s primary events at the section and hopefully state meets. But until then, he is looking forward to the challenge of putting the Storm’s lineup together each meet so they can also remain competitive in the Metro West conference.
“It takes a lot of effort on my part, looking at time data from the opponent coming up and figuring out how we can beat this team without using our strongest lineup,” Mau said. “It’ll take timing and communication, saying ‘This is what you’re swimming, so let’s work on this more.’”
Senior Emma McDaniel has been motivated to swim faster but also to create a team atmosphere within the program.
“There are a bunch of younger girls on the team, so we’ve been working on interaction and there’s definitely more of a bond this season. It’s nice not to be super separated,” McDaniel said.
This season is also important for reasons other than competition, as it would have been Jenna Paschke’s senior year. Paschke passed away at the age of 13 due to a brain tumor. One of McDaniel’s favorite memories of her time with the team is meeting Paschke when they were on the team. Now McDaniel continues to carry Jenna’s List of working hard, being nice and giving compliments
“It’s important to keep it with you,” McDaniel said. “It’s a good motto to have.”