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Back in the swim of things: All-class record 'feels great' for Helena High's Garrett Krattiger

Krattiger breaks record
Posted at 7:42 PM, Feb 17, 2024

HELENA — Last week at the state swimming meet in Great Falls, Garrett Krattiger of Helena High set a new all-class record in the 500 freestyle, finishing in 4:39.74.

His time eclipsed the previous record set in 2018 by Jack Leuthold of Billings Central (4:39.9).

“I’m not so sure it’s hit yet. I'm just living life as I should be. There’s nothing really that’s changed, but it feels great," Krattiger said of setting the record. Krattiger also won the 100 backstroke at the state meet.

“The 100 backstroke is one of my best events. I swim it at every meet and I’ve won it the past two years, so since my sophomore year on. I’ve been winning both of these events.”

As a freshman in 2021, Krattiger’s team won a state title, which helped to set him up for continued success. But he gives all the credit to his teammates and his family.

“My dad is always in my ear telling me, 'Go this time, go that time,' so I always try and please him. But when I can’t do that, it’s first place. To me, I like winning more than a time, but my dad thinks a time is more important,” Krattiger said.

The record-setter improved in both of his races during this year's state meet. He shaved nearly nine seconds off of his preliminary time in the 500 freestyle before setting the new state mark.

Jeff, his father, who is a part-time swim coach and USA-certified swim meet official, had this to say on his youngest child’s recent triumphs:

“I knew he’s always had a good time in that. The week prior I had looked up what the record was, just so see, and I’ve been giving him a hard time, 'Oh, you need to go 4:40. You need to go 4:40.' Well, he did that and more, which just totally made me ecstatic.

“He’s put all the effort into it. He gets up at 4:45 every morning, gets himself out the door to practice, then he comes back in the afternoon, does the same thing. He gets himself to practice, he’s a true leader, he gets out there and he loves to help people, so he’s been doing nothing but the right things."

Essentially, Karattiger knows how to win and feels blessed to just have this opportunity to win, which is something he loves to do to.

"I like to feel accomplished. As I finished the race, I looked up at the clock and I saw that I went a 4:39 and my dad has been pushing for me to go 4:40. And then shortly after that they said that I got the record," Krattiger said.

"It was joyful, I liked it. It’s tough to wake up and there’s like three-feet of snow outside and driving in the dark, but I like it."

The swim community has been described as one big family, and Jacque Trude could be the patriarch of that family as she was the Krattiger’s first swim coach when Krattiger was only 6 years old.

"It does make me very proud. (Krattiger) was always willing to do the work, he often put out a little more than the other kids and I felt that he had a really great shot at becoming what he became," Trude said.

"I think that he has a long ways to go and I know that he will succeed."

Krattiger will continue to swim at junior national meets this summer while also coaching swim lessons at the YMCA and Memorial pools in Helena.