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Girls Swimming and Diving: Success is relative for Irish at state meet

Rosemount girls swimming and diving coach Jim Ertl remembers back to 2002 when the Irish 400-yard freestyle relay team advanced to the Class 2A state meet.

After watching last week's state meet, it made the coach a bit nostalgic.

"I think we took fifth and we went like a (3 minutes, 38 seconds) or (3:39), something like that," Ertl said of his 2002 relay. "Now, I don't think that would even make it in. You look at Stillwater's relay and they each went 51 (seconds) or something. That's how much its improved. To see them go 51 per person, that's crazy.

"We've never had one person go 51.5. That's faster than I was in high school. You see how its evolved."

So when Ertl was discussing this year's Irish performances, the results needed to be put into perspective.

The five swimmers that participated in this year's meet -- McKenzie Tolan, Beth Wenman, Colleen Baker, Nicole Floersch and Teija Normandeau -- were trying to follow up personal bests in the section meet a week earlier.

"We did OK, but compared to the rest of the people at state, we didn't do so well," Ertl said. "That meet has gotten ridiculously fast. Not just the last couple of years, but within the past five years."

Records are now routinely broken at the state meet.

This year's finals saw eight new Class 2A records posted, three of which had been broken in the preliminaries. The 500 freestyle record also was broken in the preliminaries, making nine new records this season out of 12 events.

The longest-standing current record is the 200 individual medley, set in 1996. The other two "long-standing" records were set in 1997 (diving) and 2005 (100 butterfly).

Despite the speed at this year's meet, Tolan and Wenman earned the right to swim in the finals on Friday.

Tolan placed 14th in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:57.16. She also placed 14th in the 500 freestyle, touching the wall in 5:09.42.

"She almost broke some school records," Ertl said. "Her four best times happened in the section and state meets. That's four best times in four swims. She had great splits, couldn't ask for anything more."

Wenman swam a 1:01.19 in the 100 backstroke to place 15th.

She also posted a time of 2:14.89 in the 200 individual medley, but missed the finals in the event.

"Beth was just a little off of her times," Ertl said.

Rosemount just missed advancing in the 200 freestyle relay, placing 17th, .43 seconds behind 16th-place Elk River.

Seniors Floersch and Baker concluded their Irish careers by participating in Rosemount's two relays.

"They both did a nice job," Ertl said. "We had other girls see what takes place there and what it takes to get there. It takes a lot of offseason work. It needs to happen that way. You can't just swim in season, it won't work that way anymore."