The Vermillion Area Swim Team finished the winter season in fine fashion with nine of its members attending one of the biggest meets in the upper Midwest – Midwest Regionals.
The meet was held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, which has hosted events such as the Big Ten Championships, the Minnesota Grand Prix and even the U.S. Open and U.S. National Championships. The venue differs quite a bit from the everyday pools around here – with room for nearly 2700 spectators at the aquatic center.
The stands were nearly full both days as many teams took to the pool. The nine VAST swimmers made a name for themselves by finishing in the 23rd spot as a team in the small-team division, out of 59. There were only 11 teams designated in the large division, which includes teams of 30 or more swimmers.
Two VAST swimmers took home bronze medals during the two-day event. On Saturday, 11-year-old Maddie Lavin looked to cap off a great season when she finished in third in the girls' 11-12 100-yard butterfly event. She touched the wall at 1:08.51, only .17 off of her personal best she set at the State Championships a month ago. Lavin also finished in seventh place in the 500-yard freestyle and fifth in the 200-yard individual medley.
Madisen Martinez finished off her great season by taking third place in the girls' 11-12 50-yard breaststroke. Martinez was fast off the blocks in a very tight race, and touched the wall at 33.92. First place was only .12 seconds faster.
Her time in the 50-yard breaststroke was good for a National AAA time in the event, and she only missed the AAAA time by .83. Martinez also missed by .7 of a second the VAST team record in the event, set in 2007. She remains the lone qualifier for VAST to the 2012 14 & Under Central Zones Championships held in Wisconsin.
Other great performances were turned in all weekend. Anna Van Holland, who recently turned 11, but competed in the 9-10 age group all weekend, swam seven individual events during the weekend and recorded seven new personal best times. She finished as high as 18th place in the 50-yard freestyle.
Kaitlin Todd, of Ponca, Neb., dropped 2.29 seconds off of her personal best in the girls' 15-18 200-yard backstroke. She finished ninth in the event. Todd also took 11th in the 200-yard freestyle and dropped nearly 3.5 seconds.
Anna Hackemer went to Regionals to swim two individual events, along with two relays. On Sunday, she smashed her best time in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing in 52nd place with a new best time of 1:03.01.
Jacob Krier had a great meet as well, finishing as high as seventh in the 200-yard backstroke in the boys' 15-18 division. He also finished the meet with a 100-yard freestyle just .06 off of his personal best.
Hunter Lavin, 9, qualified to swim in two events at Regionals. Hunter took down his personal best time in the boys' 9-10 50-yard breaststroke by .4 of a second, finishing with a 47.04.
Kyleigh Moran set three personal bests all weekend. Her biggest improvement came at the end of the meet in the 100-yard freestyle event, where she dropped 1.13 seconds en route to a 1:03.17. She also finished in 10th place in the girls' 13-14 200-yard breaststroke.
Lexie Malimanek rounds out all VAST swimmers at the regional meet. Malimanek took home a sixth place showing in the girls' 11-12 500-yard freestyle, along with seventh-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly and an eighth-place finish in the 200-yard Individual Medley.
Martinez, Lavin, Malimanek and Van Holland teamed up to finish in seventh place in the girls' 12-and-under 200-yard medley relay. Todd, Martinez, Moran and Hackemer took 14th place in the girls' 18-and-under 200-yard medley relay.
Head Coach Mike Moran praised the efforts of the swimmers at the meet and everyone else on the team.
"This was a great season for everyone on the team," Moran said. "It was great to see everyone make new personal best times all year and watch how the swimmers came to practice, worked hard and were rewarded for their hard work and dedication. All of the coaches couldn't be prouder of our entire team and now are looking forward to the summer season."
VAST gets a much needed break from the pool during the month of April, but the swimmers will be back at the DakotaDome on Tuesday, May 1, for the first practice of the summer season.
Coach Moran said that more than a dozen children have expressed interest in joining the team this summer, and he likes where VAST is going.
"We have already had a lot of interest around the community in our program, and that's great to see," he said. "There will be many new faces in the pool in May, and all of the coaches are excited about that."
Anyone can join the team. If you are interested in VAST, you are encouraged to visit the team's website at www.vastsd.com. You can contact the head coach for more information via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Swimmers need to be at least 5 years old and be able to swim one length of the pool at the DakotaDome in order to participate. VAST does not have try-outs – everyone can swim.