Swimming: Six Elks set for state meet in seven events

Elk state qualifiers are Collin Krueger (kneeling) and (standing, from left) Aaron Schwab, Odrey Bechtel, Jacob Christy, Andrew Bronshteyn, and Alex Kopp. (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Six Elk River swimmers were working out this week in preparation for competing in a total of seven events at the state Class AA meet Thursday though Saturday at the U of M.

The Star News stopped in Tuesday for a group shot and a chat with the state qualifiers, coached by Denise Eidem.
The Elks had three second-place finishes at Section 8AA on Feb. 17-18 at home, and qualified by standard in four other instances.

Freshman diver Andrew Bronshteyn, runner-up at sectionals with a personal-best 337.8, will start it off for the Elks at state Thursday evening, which is reserved for diving prelims.

In swim prelims on Friday evening will be senior Collin Krueger in the 100 and 200 freestyles, junior Aaron Schwab in the individual medley and backstroke, those two and Alex Kopp and Odrey Bechtel in the medley relay, and Krueger, Bechtel, Schwab and Jacob Christy in the 400 freestyle relay.

Schwab broke an 18-year-old school record in the IM with 1:58.97. Kruger lowered  his own school record in the 200 to 1:46.48. Both were second in those events behind Maple Grove swimmers.

Schwab broke Spencer Rice’s 1994 record in the IM.

“I’ve been looking at that (record) since seventh grade,” said Schwab. “When I was a freshman I was three seconds off once, and that was as close as I got before Saturday.”

Schwab also has his sights on the backstroke record of 53.89 by Nate Dittbenner in 1997.

“I just missed on Saturday, so I’m hoping to get that one at state,” he said.

About his success at sectionals, he said, “I had a good initial relay split in the medley relay and that pumped me up for the individual medley.”

Maple Grove was the dominant team in the section, just as they are in conference.

Schwab said going against Maple Grove is “a little intimidating, but after we got over the initial shock of how fast they can go, it was a positive thing, because they made us swim faster.”

Krueger will finish with three team records, also owning the 500 mark and part of the 400 relay mark.

About swimming their best at sectionals, Krueger said it’s “mainly psychological stuff,” and credited coach Eidem for her skill in  teaching them about tapering.

The medley relay team chopped four seconds off its personal best to qualify by standard with 1:41.9 in the first  event of the finals. Eidem credited that rousing start with helping them perform well all day.

“Everybody dropped time when we needed to,” said Kopp, who swims the butterfly leg. “We were ecstatic. Really pumped up. It was a great way to start the meet …. On Friday we swim safe, and on Saturday, it’s go as fast as you can.”

Kopp, a barrel-chested Spectrum junior, is the oldest of three brothers on the team.

“This is the first year of going to state for me,” he beamed. “I have been working hard on my butterfly.”

Odrey Bechtel, a senior, was a wrestler and swimmer in Idaho, and when the family moved to Zimmerman two years ago, he had to choose, because they’re in the same season here. HIs brother, Friend Bechtel, who graduated last year, was in the same boat. The brothers went with swimming.

“It was a hard choice,” said Odrey. “Andy Lee (another Elk swimmer from ZHS) talked me into it. I have been loving it.”

Bechtel dropped his 50 free time to 22.97 in the prelims Friday after being stuck at  24.1 for some time. He finished seventh with 23.56 in the finals. He also had his best split in the 400 freestyle relay, 50.1.

Jacob Christy, a senior, will make his second state trip in the 400 freestyle relay.

Bronshteyn  credited his front one-and-a-half dive as one of the reasons he did so well.

“That’s the first time I have really done it well in competition,” he said. “Other times I had low points but today I really stuck it.”