Each season, the Valley City Sharks swim team spends countless hours in the pool.
This weekend, the team is hoping to see the work pay off at the annual North Dakota Swimming Short Course State Championships, which start today in Grand Forks.
“It’s quite a privilege or an honor to go to state,” said Sharks coach Connie Lettenmaier. “It just goes to show how hard they work. It’s a payoff.”
The Sharks have 10 swimmers qualified in 43 total events at the meet, which finishes up Sunday.
Erin Hart, who signed a letter of intent to swim at St. Cloud State University in December, is one of five Sharks to qualify for six races in her division.
She’ll be joined by her sister, Annie Hart, as well as Kristina Haugtvedt, Camille Kawasaki, Ashley McFadgen, Hailee Peterson and Sarah Schauer in the girls races.
Three boys from the team — Bronson Haugen, Haydn Jones and Justin Roswick — will also be competing.
Kamie Wagar qualified for the meet but won’t be competing due to an injury.
Annie Hart said the meet provides a change of experience from even the high school season, with swimmers taking on their peers.
“State for club is just fun,” Annie Hart said. “You’re swimming against people in your age group instead of the whole high school range.”
Plus, it provides moments of glory for the team’s younger members.
McFadgen, 9, will be going to her first state championship.
Asked about it, she replied simply with two words — “I’m excited.”
It was her body language as she said it that gave it away, her voice perking up, eyes opening wider and smile extending towards her ears, showing her pearly white teeth.
She was one of the last on the team to qualify for her lone event, the 50 yard backstroke in the 9-10 division, making the cut last weekend. She was plenty excited once she found out.
“I was standing up, cheering and stuff. It was fun,” she said.
Annie Hart said supporting the younger kids is part of the fun of the meet.
“You let them get real excited, you go cheer for them, watch the smile on their faces when they touch the wall at the end,” she said. “They just get really excited.”
That said, the team is hoping for success.
Both Harts and Kawasaki joined the season fresh off the high school season, during which the three raced for Jamestown.
Erin Hart, especially, should do well, Lettenmaier said.
“I’m anticipating she’ll get first, second, thirds in a few of her events,” she said.
Roswick, 8, will be in five races, the most of the three boys on the team and could place high Lettenmaier said.
“He did pretty good at the last meet, so you never know,” she said.