STHS swimmers strive to stay afloat in tough new league |

STHS swimmers strive to stay afloat in tough new league

South Tahoe High’s swimming program has ducked under the rope into the fast lane this season.

It’s a good thing the Vikings have an armada of 57 swimmers this season for their move up from the Sierra League to the bigger Zephyr League. And the Vikings probably will have a good indication in their first two meets whether they’ll – pardon the metaphor – sink or swim.

“I’d just as soon we get them out of the way,” South Tahoe head coach Dale Bogard said of the first two meets – Saturday against Zephyr power Reno at the Douglas home pool, and at home March 17 against a strong Carson team.

A new set of rules limits the number of times logos can appear on goggles, and dictate swimmers must remove all their jewelry in the pool – an increasingly difficult task.

“Somebody’s really bored,” Bogard said.

That means all the flash the Vikings have in the water will come from their strokes. That’s just fine with Bogard, whose team impressed its coach in a set of time trials Wednesday.

“I’m really happy with the boys and the girls and their swimming today, and they’re a lot faster than they’ve ever been,” Bogard said.

South Tahoe does have to replace the seniors who left last season. But graduation certainly didn’t drain the team’s talent pool. The Vikings return state qualifiers in butterflier Kristi Collins and Denise Bogard, both seniors. Jessica Tinlin also returns after qualifying for state two years ago in relay. Senior Shaina Willen and sophomore Lisa Anton made the zone meet last season.

Among the boys, seniors Jon McKean and Scott Miller return from last year’s zone team, along with junior Jeff Koeck and sophomores Jordan Hardy and Lucas Gallanty. McKean’s sophomore brother, Chris, decided to join the team, and has impressed his coach with his athleticism.

“I’ve got a lot of really promising freshmen, too,” Bogard said.

Still, it’s not an easy task. South Tahoe moved up with Incline into a much tougher league this season, and coach Bogard knows it will demand more creativity from the coach.

“High school swimming, as a team, it’s all on points,” she said. “So you’ve got to spread out your talent to get the points.

“It’s going to take a little more creative coaching this year.”

But she added a capable support system at the assistant-coach level. Andy Veris and Anne Bratton joined the staff, and their head coach knows she can count on the new additions.

“I think Andy and Anne joining the staff is going to help,” Dale Bogard said.

While the Vikings won’t be able to enjoy the relatively calm waters of the Sierra League – where the boys went undefeated for three years – the move does have its positive benefits, or more than two home meets. (The second is at 2:30 p.m. April 21 against Galena at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center). Swimming in a tougher league will help the Vikings swimmers push themselves harder. And that’s what it will take to advance even more swimmers to zone, May 12-13 at the University of Nevada, and state May 20 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

When the first big test comes on Saturday, South Tahoe still will be figuring out which swimmers are best-suited to which events. While the deep end of the Northern Nevada talent pool doesn’t leave much room for trial and error, the coach likes her team’s place in the fast lane.

South Tahoe swimming:

Head coach: Dale Bogard, third year; assistants Andy Veris and Anne Bratton

Key athletes: Kristi Collins, senior; Denise Bogard, senior, Jessica Tinlin, senior; Shaina Willen, senior; Jeff Koeck, sophomore; Jon McKean, senior, Jordan Hardy, sophomore, Scott Miller, senior, Lucas Gallanty, sophomore, Chris McKean, sophomore, Lisa Anton, sophomore

Coach’s key: “It’s going to take a little more creative coaching this year.”

Opener: 10:30 a.m. Saturday vs. Reno at Douglas

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