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Swimmers start strong at Prior Lake

For a boys swimming and diving coach, watching swimmers compete in an actual meet can often tell the coach much more than time trials or practice runs might offer.

For a new coach, it is even more critical to see how his team performs in pressure situations.

So, with the Farmington boys swimming and diving team, competing in last weekend's Prior Lake invitational meet was that chance for new coach Ryan Hamen.

And the coach came away pleased with the Tigers' early season performance.

Farmington placed fourth in the six-team meet, which included strong teams like Prior Lake (which placed first with 456 points), second-place St. Thomas Academy and third-place Cretin-Derham Hall. The Tigers' 346 points helped them finish fourth, just 45 points behind Cretin-Derham Hall.

"In hindsight we might have done some different things," Hamen said. "We probably could have taken third. Overall, I thought we looked great for the season to come. The boys with more experience are still trying to catch up to some of their times from last year. Some of the mid-level swimmers have worked really hard in the offseason and are already attaining some of their best times from last year. There were a lot of really happy kids after the races."

And it was a meet where Hamen and the Tigers got to see where they were at in this early part of the schedule.

Participating in a competitive meet always provides a different perspective. Even if, at the heart of the sport, it always comes down to the individual athlete.

"That is one of our goals, to keep improving," Hamen said. "That is the thing, you pretty much are swimming against ourselves. Your best opponent is always yourself. That's the thing with swimmers."

The team was able to benefit from the individual accomplishments last weekend.

Some of Farmington's best performances came in the relay events.

In the 200-yard medley relay, Brian Huls, Tyler Smith, Brandon Molnar and Taylor Kampa combined to go 1 minute, 46.38 seconds, and touched the wall in second place.

Seeded at their best time from last year, the Tigers wee seeded at 1:50.60 and beat that effort the first time out.

The 200 freestyle relay posted another second-place finish as Huls, Molnar, Kampa and Allan Berg teamed up in the event.

"It was exciting, a very close race," Hamen said. "We were just seven-tenths off from first place."

The biggest point swing for the Tigers came in the diving competition.

Tyler Magalis won diving with Aaron Christopherson coming in second.

"Those are two returning state-goers as 10th-graders," Hamen said. "It will be kind of nice to have those guys around a couple of more years."

Hamen was especially proud to see some of the swimmers drop times in just the first meet of the year.

Derek Anderson swam the 200 individual medley for Farmington and dropped significant time, going from a 2:42.07 to 2:36.53 last weekend.

Anderson, Molnar and Huls all dropped time in the 50 freestyle.

"To drop time in such a short race this early in the season is pretty nice," Hamen said.

Molnar placed second in the 50 with a time of 32.7 seconds.

"He was just touched out at the wall," Hamen said.

Huls placed sixth in the event.

Among the other swimmers who dropped significant time were Zach Holton (100 freestyle), Andrew Cayard (100 freestyle), Cameron Cain (100 butterfly), Matt Stephan (100 breaststroke), and Jake Cordes (500 freestyle).

"It was an exciting meet, and good to see where guys are at," Hamen said.