GREAT FALLS — High school swim meets are virtual this year in Montana due to COVID-19, so the Great Falls swimmers got their first times in at home on Friday as part of the Kalispell High School Invite.
Although the Great Falls CMR and Great Falls High swim teams did a few scrimmage runs before the meet, Friday offered the first real look at how the swim season will go: Rustlers and Bison side by side in every lane, kind of like practice. But with timers, officials and some limited fans allowed at Great Falls Public Schools events, meets do feel a little bit different than practice.
"It's more a little bit more pressure. And with having the timing board and stuff, that really does affect it, because the minute you finish, you can look up and see how you did," said CMR senior Raegan Osentowski. "And in practice, you don't know exactly how fast you went. You know like a rough estimate, so that changes a lot."
This year, swim "meets" will be open from Monday through Saturday, and teams will compete at their hometown pools. Results are compiled and released on Sundays.
Electric City swimmers will be getting very used to the Great Falls High pool, if they weren’t already.
"I enjoyed the travel but I know a lot of kids do enjoy that we get to swim in our home pool," Osentowski said. "And we do have a really nice pool here."
It also means swimmers don’t exactly know right away which place they got in any given race, but some aren’t too worried about that this early on.
"It's not really important to me right now, whether we won or not," Bison junior Ben Woldtvedt said. "I just kind of wanted to get a sense of how the rest of the season's going to be."
The Great Falls High and CMR teams do have the benefit of having solid talent throughout each program, which should help keep things competitive in the absence of other teams.
"I feel a lot better about it, knowing that my team's doing well and not just me," Woldtvedt said. "And hopefully we'll be able to do that for the rest of season."