Lady Bruins to compete at Independence Invite


Skyler Froese

After several high-impact seniors graduated, the girls’ swim team has been largely left to juniors. These girls will have to prove their leadership and mettle in their first individual meet Dec. 16 to 17 in Independence, Mo., facing powerhouse rivals such as Lafayette High School. There, the Lady Bruins will attempt to show they have preserved last year’s skill.
“RBHS typically treats the Independence Invitational as their first competition that is set up to collect state-qualifying times,” head coach Zach Mertens said. “Usually, the team finishes the meet with a large number of cuts and hopefully a trophy to bring home.”
Junior Nicole Williams looks forward to a new team. Both she and junior Ellie Zweifel have competed in multiple state finals but will need to step up and lead the team’s greenest members.
“A lot of the girls on the team haven’t swam before and this is their first season, so I’m more excited for a fun atmosphere and to travel as a full team,” Williams said.
Williams doesn’t particularly worry about the results of this meet, but she knows it can set the team on the right path. Mertens agrees, saying it can start writing the itinerary for the year.
“Independence dictates much of our winter training schedule and it creates a ‘to-do’ list for the latter part of the season,” Mertens said. “Expectation wise, RBHS hopes to establish itself as one of the top teams in the state, both in number of state qualifying times, depth and number of swimmers and divers ranked within the top spots of the state.”
The team has only competed once this season at Marquette Dec. 3. While they broke two meet records there, they only placed ninth. Williams attributes this to missing members during the meet.
Even with that lackluster start, the team is still hoping for future success. Five school record holders are still competing for RBHS, and there are already three freshmen under state championship qualifying times.
“We tend to dominate relays because we have swimmers who specialize in each stroke,” Zweifel said.
Though the girls will put forth their best swims in Independence, they acknowledge the need to focus on the season’s long game rather than small victories.
“We all know there’s a lot of work to be done and still have our eyes set on winning state,” Williams said. “Everyone is going to have to do their part, but I don’t think this meet will reflect how the season is going to go.”
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