The 2018 season was a year of transition in the pool. Suddenly ninth, even eighth graders, were asked to be leaders in competition.
While the 2019 season is a year of transition outside the pool with new co-head coaches Kendra Maus and Sam Hoffman, in the pool, it's another year of growth and expectation.
With all three state qualifiers in senior Lindsay Smutka and freshmen Kailey Pederson and Gretta Hansen returning, Chaska coaches look for even more success this fall.
"I expect the girls to work hard and give it their best. I honestly just want them have fun and to accomplish their goals they set for the season," Hoffman, a multi-year state qualifier as a swimmer at Chanhassen High School, said. "Overall I also hope we have some girls back at state this year, maybe making some finals. I also want to have a relay or two qualify."
Chaska is still a relatively young team. In addition to Hansen and Pederson, freshman Kiana Tardia, sophomores Serena Urevig, Eliza Prescher, Elsie McCaghy, and Ava Kallop are all underclassmen that swam in section final heats in 2018.
Brooke Freeman, who made great strides in distance freestyle events, along with Smutka, were the only two current seniors to place in the top 16 at sections.
So what Chaska is building this year will also benefit for future years.
"The thing that excites me the most about this team is how young they are. They all have so much potential and are willing to work very hard. I’m just excited to see how much they grow and improve in the next 2-3 years," Hoffman said.
Pederson had the standout swim of the season opening meet at Eden Prairie on Aug. 22. She swam a 100-yard backstroke time of 1:00.68 for Chaska's lone event win.
Kallop added a runner-up 100-yard butterfly time of 1:01.94.
Third-place finishes came from Hansen in the 200 individual medley (2:18.98) and 100-yard butterfly (1:03.06), Lindsay Smutka in the 100-yard freestyle (56.24), and Eliza Prescher in the 500-yard freestyle (5:46.07).
Chaska was defeated 105-73 by Eden Prairie in a meet that also featured Chanhassen.
"We just had our first meet and for us it was more about getting to know how these girls race, and where we are at as a team. Our next few meets I really want to see who steps up and really races the opposing team. I want to see who can dig deep and push ahead of the person next to them," Hoffman said.
Chaska's next meet is the home opener Tuesday, Sept. 10 against St. Louis Park at Pioneer Ridge Middle School.