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Packers swimming and diving hope to build with new coaches, young team

West Fargo's Alex Walker goes through drills during a recent practice session at the new Hulbert Aquatic Center.David Samson / The Pioneer1 / 3
West Fargo head boys swimming and diving coach Lisa Montplaisir watches her team during a recent practice session at the new Hulbert Aquatic Center.David Samson / The Pioneer2 / 3
The West Fargo Packers boys swimming and diving team ready for their team portrait during a recent practice session at the new Hulbert Aquatic Center.David Samson / The Pioneer3 / 3

In their first meeting with the Packers boys swimming and diving team, Barb Fisher and Lisa Montplaisir were familiar with the many returners, so they already knew what the Packers are capable of.

No matter how young the Packers are this season, the two co-head coaches have a clear plan for the program: a steady stream of improvement.

The Packers start the season with a new coach for the first time in about three decades after the resignation of Marsha Dahl last year and they will be swimming for the first year at the new Hulbert Aquatic Center.

With so much change following the Packers, junior Tyler Binstock said the coaches have planned meticulously for the season.

"We learned how they see us doing better and how we're going to progress throughout the year," Binstock said. "They have a gameplan for the end of the year to where we want to get to."

Montplaisir said the new pool, which was used as an Olympic trial pool, opens up more practice times between the two West Fargo programs and will soon allow the swim teams to incorporate more out-of-pool workouts as well.

"We're just thrilled about what's coming forward," Montplaisir said. "They have to train and be mentally ready to compete on a weekly basis."

The Packers graduate four seniors from last year including Jacob Nygaard who took third in the 100-yard butterfly at the North Dakota state meet last season and James Doyel who took sixth in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 backstroke.

Montplaisir said she'll be working with plenty of younger swimmers who know how to train from the club season and should be ready to step up this year.

"We've been very impressed with what our boys have been doing thus far this season," Montplaisir said. "We're really working hard and improving in the drills and techniques we've been asking them to do."

The Packers have just one returning senior in Alex Walker who took seventh in the 200 freestyle at the state meet in 1 minute, 51.56 seconds. Walker said as a senior he wants to help the younger swimmers along and help them reach their potential.

"I think they're really going to shine this year," Walker said. "I usually tell people to block out everything that's happening around you. Whatever happened at school or what's happening at home, just block it out and put your mind in the water and go hard."

Although the Packers will have to adjust after losing last year's seniors, Binstock said the team is capable of finishing in the top eight at the state meet this season after doing the same last season. The new head coaches have helped the Packers develop more technique, Binstock said, compared to the emphasis on distance work last year.

"We have the endurance. Now we're working on more of the skill," Binstock said. "We're going to be able to come in and know what we're doing."

Walker said he's thankful to have his final high school season in the Hulbert Aquatic Center where the East Region and state meets will be held this season. He said knowing that some of the best swimmers have competed in the pool gives him a mental boost which pushes him to swim faster.

"Just the feeling you get when you get in the pool," Walker said. "You feel better when you're swimming. Everything feels brand new so it feels fresh under your feet and in your hands. I'm going to make this season the best I can."

West Fargo Packers boys swimming and diving

Coach: Barb Fisher and Lisa Montplaisir (first year)

Last year's finish: Fourth at East Region meet, eighth at state meet

Who's gone: Samuel Anderson, James Doyel, John Emerson, Jacob Nygaard

Key returners: Alex Walker, Sr.; Timothy Hulbert, So.; Kasey Chase, So.; Tyler Binstock, Jr.; Cooper Sahli, Jr.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

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