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DL swimmers hoping last year's experience pays off

Sometimes baptism by fire pays off.

At least that's what the Detroit Lakes boys' swimming and diving team hopes. Last year at this time, a boatload of first-year varsity swimmers and divers were jumping into the prep waters with very little experience.

This year, that youth is still prevalent, but this time around there is more seasoning.

"Almost all of our swimmers back have experience on the varsity," said DL head coach Mike Daly. "But our question marks are in our depth and top-end talent. We graduated five seniors last year, and replace them with just three this year."

The trio of seniors responsible for leading the team will be Nathan Buelow, Shane Wyborny and Brian Alexander. Wyborny is coming off a spectacular cross country season in which he qualified for state, while Buelow returns as the team's second-leading point producer from the 2004-05 season.

Buelow will be a four-year starter, while Alexander will be entering his sixth year on varsity and Wyborny his second.

The Lakers also return two Mid-State All-Conference selections in junior Sam Branstad and freshman Luke Pechmann.

"We are looking to having Buelow, Pechmann and Branstad start claiming those two top spots in the events they are swimming in," Daly said.

DL also will have an infusion of some overseas talent. German foreign exchange student Henrick Bewarder joins the team with extensive swimming experience.

The challenge DL will face is the numbers game. Depth is a concern and will hurt the team in invitationals, but Daly is hoping for improved marks in the Mid-State Conference and section.

"I'm looking to finish somewhere in the middle in the section, while our goal every year is to win the Mid-State," Daly said. "Park Rapids will be real tough this year, but we should be right there, hopefully."

With the lack of depth, DL's relays will be affected.

"At the sections, our relays will be weak because of our low numbers," Daly noted.

The Lakers will take part in this year's section True Team meet in Hutchinson, the same site for the regular section meet.

In diving, DL has lost six-year diver Brock Jacobson. Returning is junior Matt Bielke, while John Melgaard will contribute as a first-year diver.

Coaching the divers this year will be Bobbi Jo Koonz, who is a DLHS graduate and a state girls' diving participant.

"Our expectation is we would like to get some individuals and relay teams to the state meet," Daly said. "I would also like to see the (young) swimmers performing well in each meet and growing into their positions."

The season started this Saturday, Dec. 10, in Fergus Falls. DL will host the Otters Thursday inside the BTD Aquatics Center beginning at 6 p.m.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.