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Swimming and Diving: Record-seeking returners

When Rosemount sophomore Beth Wenman looks at the school's swimming records posted inside the Rosemount Middle School pool, there is a clear goal in her mind.

Wenman wants to break the school record in the 200-yard individual medley -- which was set by Patti Wegner in 1999 -- and she let coach Jim Ertl know it early this preseason.

"She's got that right mindset," Ertl said. "She's cautiously confident. She's not arrogant about it, but she said, 'This is what I am going after.' And I agree with her, with the way she swims and she had a great summer."

Wenman isn't alone. Several returning swimmers have their sights set on school records and Ertl agrees with them as well. If the coach is right, as many five school records could fall.

"I really do see the potential already in this group as far as how well they've improved," Ertl said. "And I think the atmosphere is set for that to happen. There's a lot of people that care about the whole team."

Seniors Lanette Griffith and Julie Normandeau return as team captains. McKenzie Tolan -- one of the swimmers with thoughts of records -- Carla Ortiz and Jennifer Beck are the team's only other seniors.

There are only four juniors, leaving a lot of underclassmen to fill in the lineup spots. However, the sophomore class, which includes Wenman, Lindsey Erickson, Sara Devitt, Elyse Griffith and Teija Normandeau, has Ertl excited about the present and future.

"We're definitely heavy on the youth," Ertl said. "I just see a lot of potential and talent in the youth."

Another sophomore this season could be a surprise to Ertl.

Nadezda Rybina is a foreign-exchange student from Russia. After a tentative start, she has been swimming with some of the team's best swimmers.

"When she showed up, she was kind of laying back," Ertl said. "She is really quiet. I got to see her get going and she would be waiting for people.

"Then we moved her over to lane six with Beth and those other girls that train hard. It's a little bit of a challenge for her at times, but she is hanging in there. She can swim with them."

Tolan returns after a strong run to end last season. She participated in the state meet individually in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, and was part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that qualified.

Wenman participated in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley individually, and the 400 freestyle relay at last season's state meet.

With all the talent, including ninth-grader Claire Tolan who was a key member of last year's squad, Ertl will again have the strength to fill out three solid relays.

"We're really trying to get three relays in the state," Ertl said. "So, it will take a lot of people."

The Irish also have more divers competing than they ever have. Claire Judeh is the top returning diver among the six on the roster.

"Every one of them I think will be good," Ertl said. "They all could be good. It's who is going to be taking a risk to get better and focus on what they need to do. Because diving is a whole different ball game. It's like gymnastics. They've got to be risk takers."

Ertl has possible risk-takers and probable record-breakers.