BRIDGMAN — The upcoming boys high school swimming season will happen fast.
Practice just began this week, and by Tuesday, Jan. 26, St. Joseph and the Bridgman co-op team will battle each other and Coldwater in the first meet of the season. Two months later, the season is set to conclude with the state finals on March 27.
“It’s going to be short and sweet,” St. Joseph coach Janet Beemer said. “It’s really, really abbreviated. Eight weeks is really short for a swim season.”
It’s a constrast from the girls season, which just held its state meet on Saturday after a long delay due to emergency orders to contain the COVID-19 spread.
The virus is causing extra problems for Bridgman – coach Emily Nannfeldt is quarantined this week and won’t be able to resume in-person coaching duties until Monday. This week, she said she checks in with the team over Zoom and assigns workouts while the diving coach oversees practice.
Beemer is in her first season as St. Joseph boys head coach, swapping roles with Tim Straub, who is now an assistant. With a large roster of 36 boys, she said the team is split into two groups that take turns in the pool while the other does “dry land” work. This helps maintain social distancing as well as give swimmers more individual attention.
“Our pool workouts are going to be a lot of race pace work,” she said. “We normally build up and take some time and get some long, slow yardage in.”
St. Joseph’s fastest returning swimmer is senior Andrew Moyer, a state qualifier in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Senior Jacob Haunhorst is a versatile swimmer who Beemer said can fill in anywhere he’s needed, and last season competed in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle.
Haunhorst is a captain along with seniors Luke Bingaman (backstroke, freestyle) and Jacob Maynard (diving). Other key returnees include senior Gabe La-Flamme (butterfly, breaststroke) and juniors Jack LoPresti (IM, breaststroke) and Trevor Cool (distance). Top incoming freshmen are Juswin Judge (butterfly, backstroke, IM) and diver Alexander Moyer.
Beemer said that the team’s goals include qualifying some relay teams for the Division 3 state finals.
Bridgman will look to a strong 10-person senior class to help deal with the unusual season.
“I think it really is going to help having most of the team seniors,” Nannfeldt said. “Just the leadership, they know what needs to be done. They all want to do well. They’re just super excited they get to be there.”
Diving is a strength for the Bees, with standout senior Matt Pisarsky leading the way. Senior Zach Nannfeldt and junior CJ Carmichael also return. There’s also a girl diver on the roster – Dani Morrill played volleyball during the fall, and was granted a waiver to compete in the winter. Nannfeldt said Morrill is “a really good diver” and will be competitive against the boys.
The swimmers are led by a strong senior class which is balanced across events. They include Parker Roach (breaststroke), Grant Rose (butterfly), Cody Schimmel (all-around), Matt Warner (backstroke), Tyler Westfall (distance), Alex Tellez and Tyler Burks (sprint freestyle) and Nate Bittner.
Bridgman competes in Division 1 as it swimmers from many area schools, making state qualification difficult. Given the unusual circumstances, Nannfeldt said she’d mostly like to see her swimmers return to their previous performance levels.
“It’s so hard to get back into shape,” Nannfeldt said. “We’re coming into it pretty out of shape.
“It’s just a flash in the pan. If anybody gets a (personal record), it would be awesome.”