It was a weekend full of fast swimming and some team firsts, as the Vermillion Area Swim Team visited Sioux Falls for the Mitchell Aquatic Club Swimming Invitational on Jan. 28-29.
Mitchell, one of the larger teams in South Dakota without a facility large enough to host a meet, hosted the meet at the Sioux Falls YWCA. Twenty-three VAST swimmers participated.
The highlights of the weekend were the swims by Maddie Lavin, Lexie Malimanek and Madisen Martinez. All three girls swim in the 11-12 division, with Lavin being the only 11-year-old in the group. The three combined to win every event in the girls' 11-12 division during the entire meet.
"It was really exciting to see them swim fast all week," said head coach Mike Moran. "After the first day, I knew that they did great and didn't pay too much attention to the overall finishes. After day two is when it hit me that they swept all events during the weekend."
Maddie Lavin won the 200-yard individual medley (IM) and also the 500-yard freestyle event. Currently, she is ranked number one in both events in her division in South Dakota.
Lexie Malimanek dropped tons of time in many events during the weekend. She won the 100-yard freestyle, 100 yard backstroke, 200 yard freestyle, 100 yard butterfly and 50 yard backstroke events, as well as the 100 yard IM. Malimanek is also ranked in South Dakota, first in the 200 freestyle and first in the 200 backstroke, which is an event not contested at the state meet.
Martinez rounded out a great weekend of finishes for VAST. She won the 50 yard and 100 yard breaststroke events, the 50 yard butterfly, and the 50 yard freestyle. Martinez is ranked first in both the 50 and 100 yard breaststroke in South Dakota as of today and in the top 16 in many other events.
Other great swims were turned in by VAST swimmers all weekend. Nine-year-old Olivia Granaas dropped just over 13 seconds in the 200 yard freestyle; Anna Hackemer, 14, dropped 28 seconds in the 200 yard IM, and Gabe Telleria, 8, dropped over 28 seconds in the 200 yard freestyle. Annika Granaas, 8, also had an outstanding meet, and qualified to her first ever state meet in the 25 yard butterfly.
"All of our kids are swimming really well and really fast, and it's because they make the choice to come to practice," said coach Moran. "The team offers at least five practices a week, and most days we have been averaging over 20 of our 35 swimmers in the water. Good things happen to kids who practice and take it seriously, and we are starting to see that, and it makes going to meets even more fun."
VAST swimmers have two more chances to qualify to the state meet in early March. Many swimmers are going to the Last Chance meet in Sioux Center, IA, this weekend. As of today, VAST has 20 swimmers who have qualified to the state championships in Rapid City.