The West Fargo Flyers swimming club has been a huge part of the West Fargo Packers' swimming success in recent years.
It could also be said that the Packers have been a big part of the Flyers' success, given the team's accomplishments. Beginning tomorrow, the Flyers will swim for their fifth consecutive state title in Mandan.
Head coach Jeffrey Steele has been a big part of all things related to Packer swimming in recent years. Not only does he run the 140-swimmers-strong Flyers team, he also serves as an assistant coach for both high school swimming teams.
Several swimmers have made names for themselves as Flyers over the years, and this year has been no different. The Flyers compete in many local and regional events, including the FMY Island Park Invite two weeks ago in Fargo and most recently last weekend at the Speedo Sectional Championship in Minneapolis.
The Flyers feature Fargo Shanley swimmer Lexie Halberstadt, who followed Steele to West Fargo from the Fargo Gators, a team Steele formerly coached. She made the finals of the 200 butterfly swimming against Big 10 college swimmers in Minneapolis and is one of the top swimmers in North Dakota.
Steele could rattle of names all day when talking about his swimmers' accomplishments. For example, there's Brandon Olson, an incoming L.E. Berger fifth grader. Olson broke the 400 freestyle state boys 9-10 record by 13 seconds at a recent meet in Grand Forks.
Steele recommends club swimming for anyone considering competitive swimming at any level, especially high school.
"These kids train with me nine months out of the year in preparing for the high school season. Swimming is a sport where you have to swim in the off-season to excel," Steele said.
The Flyers must be doing something right. The team has grown from 60 swimmers to more than 140, and that pays obvious dividends for the Packers. West Fargo High head coach Marsha Dahl will get about 27 seventh grade newcomers to her program in the next two seasons from the Flyers. Meanwhile, she's only going to be graduating two or three seniors a year.
The defending state champion boys Packer team and the second place girls team are quickly becoming state powers, and with the numbers the Flyers provide, longtime powerhouse Minot should be looking over its shoulder.
The Flyers' Web site, www.wfflyers.com, provides sign up information for the team that welcomes swimmers age five to 18.
Packers shined last week
High school isn't even in session, yet a couple Packers excelled last week during summer sports action.
Recent Packer graduate Mike Benson led the Class A all-stars with 15 points in helping them win the annual Lions All-star basketball game.
Soon-to-be senior Scott Schiller once again proved his status as a national wrestling talent at the USA Nationals at the Fargodome. Last week he took fifth place at 189 in the national junior freestyle division. The double All-American also took seventh place in Greco Roman.
Schiller will compete for his third consecutive high school state title this winter.