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Swimming and diving: Cards see early success after off-season work

Junior Nick Olson took first place in the 200 yard and the 500 yard freestyle events when Willmar came to Alexandria. (Emily Myrin / Echo Press)1 / 2
Senior Nic Chromey took first place in the 200 yard IM and the 100 yard butterfly in the Cardinals' meet against Willmar on Thursday. Alexandria won 106-77. (Emily Myrin / Echo Press)2 / 2

The Alexandria boys swimming and diving team isn’t holding back early in the season.

“We almost have to push them out of the pool at the end of a practice,” Alexandria head coach Kathy Walker said. “We have practice at 5:30 in the morning, they’re all here. I said, ‘Ok Saturday of Christmas vacation we have an 8-10 a.m. practice,’ and they said, ‘Let’s have two.’ ”

All of that diligence has resulted in two straight wins to kick off the Cardinals’ season. Alexandria finished off Melrose-Sauk Centre 95-91 in the season opener. On Thursday night, the Cardinals beat Willmar 106-77 in Alexandria’s home opener.

“It feels good. I’m glad that we’re starting out really fast,” senior Zach Dummer said. “Taking more than one day off, you just start to lose it. You gotta keep the grind up to push through it and keep that muscle going. Hopefully we keep swimming this good.”

Dummer took first place in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 59.98. Eighth grader Anthony Hoyt took home third place in the same event in 1:05.62.

The meet opened with a first and third place finish by the relay teams racing for Alexandria in the 200 yard Medley. Junior Nick Olson took first place in the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle. Hoyt came in second in the 500, less than a second behind Olson.

“Our underclassmen that we’ve moved up are doing incredible,” senior Nic Chromey said. “Anthony Hoyt almost won his first ever race in the 500 and Logan Tung is swimming faster than I ever did at his age. I’m really impressed with what these guys are doing in and out of practice. It’s great to see.”

The Cardinals swept up the top two slots in the 100 yard breaststroke with finishes from eighth grader Nicolas Welle and seventh grader Tung. Nic Chromey and Dummer took first and second place, respectively in the 200 yard IM. Dummer touched the wall less than a second after Chromey. Chromey also took first in the 100 yard butterfly, finishing in 57.23.

Chromey and Dummer said that all the hard work they’ve been putting in this season started well before practices began with many athletes swimming in club and all of them hitting the weight room together in the off-season.

“It’s tough, but as long as you understand that everyone is going through the same struggle it’s a lot easier to keep going,” N. Chromey said of the constant grind. “You know it pays off, especially after doing this for so many years and understanding how a taper works. It’s so worth it in the end.”

Walker thinks a tight-knit team with a positive attitude contributes to their early season success. Plus, the success the Cardinals got a taste of last year has given the athletes something to strive for, Walker said. Alexandria took seventh as a team at the Class A state meet a year ago with 107 points.  

“Having success as a team at the state meet inspired them to return and do even better this year,” Walker said. “The relays tonight were within very easy striking distance of the state meet. It’s a team culture. It’s not about the individuals. It’s about what can we do to help each other improve.”

Junior Patrick Chromey and Welle secured the second and third place wins for Alexandria with times of 23.50 and 23.97 in the 50 yard freestyle against Willmar. P. Chromey took home another second place finish with his 51.35 time in the 100 yard freestyle. Senior Jordan Baas followed in third place with a time of 54.81.

Freshman Devan Swerman took first place for the Cardinals in the diving competition with 128.95 points.

With goals of making it into the top 10 at state again, the Cardinals will have to keep training through all of their meets this season. Walker says there are no easy days and no breaks from the weight room ahead for the boys.

“They want the work because they know it’s going to pay off in the end,”  Walker said. “They are hungry for that success.”

ALEXANDRIA 106, WILLMAR 77ALEXANDRIA TOP THREE FINISHERS200 yard medley - Zach Dummer, Nic Chromey, Nick Olson, Jordan Baas - first, 1:4.37; Devan Swerman, Logan Tung, Geoffrey King, Garrett Maras - third, 1:58.22200 yard freestyle - Nick Olson - first, 2:01.56200 yard IM - Nic Chromey - first, 2:07.65; Zach Dummer - second, 2:08.5050 yard freestyle - Patrick Chromey - second, 23.50; Nicolas Welle - third, 23.97Diving - Devan Swerman - first, 128.95 points 100 yard butterfly - Nic Chromey - first, 57.23100 yard freestyle - Patrick Chromey - second, 51.35; Jordan Baas - third, 54.81500 yard freestyle - Nick Olson - first, 5:31.02; Anthony Hoyt - second, 5:32.81200 yard Freestyle relay - Jordan Baas, Nicolas Welle, Patrick Chromey, Nic Chromey - first, 1:32.75; Logan Tung, Geoffrey King, Garrett Maras, Carter Holm - third, 1:44.11100 yard backstroke - Zach Dummer - first, 59.98; Anthony Hoyt - third, 1:05.62100 yard breaststroke - Nicolas Welle - first, 1:09.58; Logan Tung - second, 1:14.61400 yard freestyle relay - Baas, Welle, Olson, P. Chromey - 3:32.24