By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Havre High swim coach Chris Inman doesn't hate Christmas or the Christmas break. But three weeks without a meet is just a little much.
Thankfully for Inman and her team, they will get to taste competition after the long break today when the Ponies take on C.M. Russell High School and Great Falls High in dual meet action at the Great Falls High swimming pool.
"It's been a long break," Inman said. "Really, it's been too long. Three weeks is a long to go between meets. We've been working a lot on our technique and doing some conditioning and more conditioning."
There is a monotony to practicing without competition and Inman has tried to break it up by mixing in some competitive games and contests that still have conditioning components. Still, she admits that her team is anxious for a meet.
"We need that competition," Inman said. "The games and stuff have helped, but there is no substitute for a meet."
Havre will dive back into competition against some familiar foes. The Ponies have competed at the same meets as CMR and GFH this season.
"The Bison girls are really strong," Inman said. "But I think if our girls swim up to their capabilities, we can definitely give them a run for their money."
Great Falls High won the girls team title at the Havre Invitational on Dec. 13. The Bison girls captured every individual title at the Havre meet. They are led by swimmers Sara Aspinwall, Rikka Strong and Christi O'Connor. The Ponies will look to Rachel Hansen, Kasie Teske, Gwen Porter and Danielle Barton to lead them.
On the boys side, Havre High should contend with both the Bison and Rustlers. The Ponies finished behind Great Fall High, but ahead of CMR at the Havre meet.
"Our boys can win both duals," Inman said. "It's going to take a big effort from all 13 boys."
Despite the long layoff, Inman expects good times from her swimmers.
"I think a lot of our kids' times should come down significantly," Inman said. "Great Falls is a very fast pool. And it's also where the state meet is being held. It's our last opportunity to swim there this season so I expect us to be ready. It's a nice advantage to swim there twice before state."
Following the Great Falls duals, Havre will head south to Bozeman to compete in the always-tough Hawk Invitational meet on Saturday. Besides the usual Class AA competition, Class A schools Hardin, Billings Central and Butte Central will also be in Bozeman.
"It's a good, tough meet," Inman said. "There is plenty of good teams, but most importantly we get to see all of the Class A schools at this meet."
The Bozeman meet will offer a variety of tests for the Ponies. The pool for the Bozeman meet is an Olympic length 50-meter pool, and then there is an increased altitude in Bozeman, which makes racing a little more difficult.
"It's a little different mentally with the longer pool, and the altitude is different, but we just have to go out and swim our own race," Inman said.
Inman mixed around the events for some swimmers trying to find the right combination of events for each swimmer.
"We have so many new kids this year, we have to try some different things to see where they can do their best," Inman said.