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Peterson qualifies for national swim meet

West Fargo sophomore Hallie Peterson swims in the offseason for the F-M Gators and has qualified for a YMCA national swim meet. Dave Wallis

For Packers swimmer Hallie Peterson, the season doesn’t end at the state tournament.

Since May 2013, the sophomore has been swimming with the Fargo-Moorhead Gators during the offseason, and has qualified for the YMCA National Meet in Greensboro, N.C., taking place this week. She will be participating in four events – two individual races and two relays – in a four-day tournament that will see roughly 1,400 swimmers from across the nation participating.

“It is a cool feeling to be able to go, but I really don’t know what to expect,” Peterson said. “I have been to other big meets, but I feel this will be exciting because you are combining something like the state meet with so many more people.”

Peterson – the daughter of Dana and Paula Peterson – is coming off a breakout season with the Packers, where she was a part of the state-champion 400 freestyle relay team and finished third in the 100 freestyle.

“She has a work ethic that other athletes should aspire to,” Gators coach Talia Butery said. “She takes cues from her coaches very well and she is great to her teammates. She has really been an awesome addition to the team. She knows she can go out and give it her best, and that that will probably put her in a great spot.”

Peterson began swimming in first grade, reluctantly joining the West Fargo Flyers at the request of her mother. Now she is the freestyle “expert” for the Packers and Gators, preferring that event because she enjoys the feeling of simply going out and racing.

Though she felt fine leading up to the tournament, Peterson expected the nerves to come once she entered the pool in Greensboro.

“It never sinks in until I’m in the pool,” Peterson said. “There is something about a big meet where you can just walk in and feel the excitement. That is when it usually gets to me.”

Peterson is one of four Gators participating in the meet — the other three swim for Fargo North — and will compete in the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle and the freestyle legs of the 200 and 400 medley relays.

While Butery would like to see Peterson and her teammates in the finals, she is ultimately hoping for personal best times from her swimmers.

“We go into this meet with an open mind,” Butery said. “Obviously we strive for the girls to reach the finals, but realistically, we just want to see them do the best they can.”

Peterson has two years left for the Packers and Gators, but hopes to compete at the college level as well. Butery sees that as a legitimate possibility.

“I think she is just getting started with her swimming career,” Butery said. “She has been swimming for quite a while, but I think she is just settling in and finding her spot to shine. She has a ton of potential, she is very versatile and she has a great work ethic. All of those things together point toward a great future.”

The YMCA National Meet — which began yesterday — will continue until Friday.

The Fargo-Moorhead Gators swim team is the local YMCA team, and has been serving the community for over 50 years. Swimmers of all ages are welcome to compete and participate at all levels, with practice schedules varying by season and level.