The hottest place in Butte these days seems to be the swimming pool at the YMCA.
And Butte High swimming coach Lynn Shrader is grateful for that.
The Bulldogs jumped into their 2015 campaign on Friday with a meet against Helena and Capital high schools and they were able to do it with a degree of success thanks to an increase in the number of swimmers they have.
The Butte boys’ team completed a sweep of the day, beating Helena High, 114-35, and Capital by a 11-64 margin.
The Bulldog girls’ team beat Capital, 105-100 but dropped a 117-94 decision to Helena.
“I have 38 swimmers,” Shrader said after Friday’s meet. “Last year I had 25. Maybe.”
Shrader was not only happy to see the numbers increase but was pleasantly surprised by what she saw from them at Friday’s meet. While there were a handful of disqualifications, the Bulldog swimmers seemed to handle the technical aspects of the sport rather well.
“A lot of the new swimmers came out here with their friends,” Shrader said. “A lot of soccer players came out, and a couple who didn’t play basketball came out.
“Some of them were swimmers when they were younger, and some never swam before in their lives. Some didn’t know how to do flip-turns or swim a 50. They all did them (Friday). I’m enjoying it.”
Having new swimmers didn’t translate into a win for the Bulldogs on Friday. While that was a little disappointing to Shrader, a devout competitor, she saw the meet as a good starting point for her less-experienced competitors.
“I wanted to see them know how to compete and to work their hardest,” Shrader said. “We had a lot of people who were at their best times from the end of last year. That’s a very good place to pick up from.”
Sophomore Brandon Quinn made one heck of a splash when he trimmed 5 seconds off his 50-yard freestyle time at last season’s state meet.
Quinn, Kyle and Trevor Kromm, and senior Jake Bentley figure to be among the Bulldog leaders this season, and proved it by swimming well at Friday’s season opener.
“That was a shock,” Shrader said in praise of Quinn’s season-opening performance. “I expect him to swim better every week.
“Kyle Komm swam the 500 for the very first time and he went a lot faster than I thought he would,” Shrader said. “And Riley Walsh was a surprise too. He cut off a lot of time off of his events (200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke) too.”
Bentley won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:08.42, topping Capital’s Jacob Fleury, (2:25.99). He also won the 100-yard butterfly (57.34), beating Capital’s Al Isben by more than 20 seconds. He was also on a couple of relay teams.
Freshman Zack Johnson made his early presence felt by the Bulldogs. He was on the front end of a 1-2 finish in the 50 free, turning in a winning time of 24.91 seconds. Kyle Komm was right behind with a 26.25 clocking.
Shrader is also expecting some good things out of her girls’ swimmers, especially those with another season of experience under their belts.
Elsie Dickerson showed her versatility by winning the 500-yard freestyle, though she was the lone female competitor, and with a second-place finish in the girls’ 50 freestyle.
“There is a lot of improvement because a lot of these people have not been swimming all year long,” Shrader said. “They have not been in the pool since February. I feel pretty good.”