After a very successful season last year, the Red Wing boys' swimming and diving team enters this winter with a much different focus.
With the seniors on the team the previous season having graduated, three of the four swimmers that made up the relay teams are gone and there are many other events to fill this season.
"Swimming is big numbers game, being able to fill a roster," said Red Wing head coach Mikayla Beuch. "You need a big team to have a presence and we are not a big team this year. That's just something that a lot of boys' swimming teams face."
Among those returning who can pick up the slack are senior Nick Bayley and junior Graham Achen.
Bayley was apart of relay teams last season and will swim with three new faces this season. He also likely will swim the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 breaststroke. Achen can swim in multiple events which include the relays and the 500 freestyle. However, with a small roster Beuch wants to keep the lineup from event to event flexible.
"Based on where our team is at, it's an opportunity for us to mix it up. A lot of teams, they notice a race or a speed or stroke in an athlete at a young age, they'll notice a race where they think that they are doing well," Beuch said. "Because of the way the team is built, that athlete never gets to try another race. They're just, 'whelp, my event is 50 free and now I'm stuck with that event.' Now we're at a position where we can explore different options with athletes and we have a lot of meets that are coming up where that lineup might completely change."
Beuch credited the seniors of last year's team for setting high standards for the current and upcoming swimmers. Yet, for this season, the Wingers enter a rebuild. Beuch said she's encouraged by the returners from last year and by some of the 6th graders who could join the team next year as 7th graders.
"It's now going to be about rebuilding our program over the next couple years," Beuch said. "Getting the word out about guys' swim and the good opportunity that it can provide (the athletes). We have some, hopefully, promising 6th graders that'll come up next year. It's just a matter of working with what we've got, shaping them into being that next generation of athletes."
Mayo 81, Red Wing 65
Red Wing came into its first home dual missing a lot from their lineup, including their divers.
"We have a couple kids out for injuries that could have made an impact on the results," Beuch said. "But as a team, we have to be able to pull more weight in those spots that are missing."
The relay team of Graham Achen, Nick Bayley, Kaleb Dewall and Zach Hofius came in second place in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 57.1 seconds.
Achen, Bayley, Hofius and Patrick Hines teamed up to finish second in the 200 freestyle relay.
Bayley took second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.47 and third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:01.07. Achen swam the third fastest time (5:49.45) in the 500 freestyle.
"Graham Achen had a great 500 (freestyle)," Beuch said. "He hasn't raced the event since last season, so we wanted to see where he was at with his pacing and let him swim without holding him to a time. Now we have a good idea on what to use as a base and we can push the first leg of his event a little more to make his race more aggressive.
"(Achen) is someone who really worked on his strength and stamina in the offseason and we noticed it right away in the beginning of the season and we're really excited to work with him this season."
Jacob Flemke swam the second fastest time (1:09.04) in the 100 backstroke, while Colin Johnson swam the second fastest time (1:22.60) in the 100 breaststroke.