BOZEMAN — The Bozeman Barracudas hosted the East Venue of the Montana Swimming Short Course Championship this weekend, featuring nearly 200 of the state’s best swimmers.
“Normally you would have this entire building absolutely packed, but we worked really hard with our county health authority to get our numbers, our spacing controlled, so we’re able to hold this meet even with the COVID constraints," Barracudas head coach Hans Dersch said.
To meet county health orders, this year’s state meet was split up into two venues, with Polson hosting the West side.
“We’ve basically set up the program to run the same meet in two different locations, so we’re going to compile all those results," Dersch explained. "They won’t be final until we compare the times for the events. Eventually, those will all be combined, and the scoring will be done then.”
“It’s definitely a lot different," competitor Georgia Gram said. "There’s not 14 heats in each event and the whole state isn’t here, so it is a little strange.”
While this year’s state meet looks and feels quite different, this weekend’s swimmers are just thankful for the opportunity to compete.
“We’ve got teams here that have been on lockdown, have no pool to compete in, haven’t had meets, and now we’re able to pull together all their hard work and give them a venue where they can showcase what they’ve been working on," Dersch added.
And with fresh competition brings new personal-best times.
“These guys are just exploding," Dersch said. "We’ve been seeing best times across the board. They’re having a blast too just seeing some additional competitors. ... We need that spark to keep us going, to keep us shooting bigger and better. They’re really fired up to have new competition.”
Both the East and West venues will wrap up competition Sunday evening. Scores will then be combined and results should be available early next week.