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Bemidji swimmers hit pool early and stay late

BEMIDJI -- If you want to drop into a practice session of the Bemidji High School girls swimming team you have to be at the high school either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. During the times that most of the teams are doing their drills, the swimmers are resting.

"We have our first session each day from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and then we come back from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.," Lumberjacks coach Woody Leindecker said. "In the morning we turn the school lights on and after the second workout we turn the lights off when we leave. Nobody even knows that we've been in the pool."

The veteran coach has devised this regimen in order to make the most of each practice opportunity.

"The girls take pride in the fact that we do have two-a-day practices and we do get in our three hours of work each day," Leindecker said. "But we need to have the long rest in between.

"In the morning we go hard and concentrate on our yardage work," the coach continued. "We don't come back until 4 p.m. and the girls use that time to recover from the morning workouts. And then in the afternoon we have our dryland and work on our technique."

Behind a solid group of upperclassmen, last year's team captured the section crown and finished 15th at the state meet. Duplicating those performances will be difficult but Leindecker isn't ruling anything out.

"Because of graduation we have lost north of 150 section points," the coach said. "Many of them came from Steph Frey who is the most decorated athlete in Bemidji girls swimming and who will be in the Lumberjacks Athletic Hall of Fame someday. You don't replace her with one person but what you can do is develop two or three more girls to make up those points.

"And after one week of practice I am seeing a young team that is dominated by well-conditioned athletes," Leindecker continued. "We have some very promising young kids who will step up and be okay."

Those kids will have their first competition Aug. 24 at the Willmar Invitational.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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