Lisa Montplaisir was ready to take a breath.
After years of planning, Montplaisir, the President and Coach of the West Fargo Flyers club swim team, had spent the last four days overseeing the biggest event her organization had ever undertaken, as more than 800 swimmers from nearly a dozen states had converged onto the Hulbert Aquatic Center for a 14-and-under Central Zones race.
To keep things running, the center had 220 volunteers fill close to 900 positions during competition.
So as the final race wrapped Sunday afternoon, Montplaisir was feeling an understandable sense of relief.
"Four 12-hour days of volunteer work certainly isn't easy," she said.
And though she was eager to step away from the pool for a spell, Montplaisir couldn't help but admire the work of her and her staff, believing they'd pulled off the challenging task of conducting the tournament with gusto.
"It was fantastic," she said. "New records were set, athletes had a great time, coaches and parents and officials all had a great experience. It was something new for us to do to highlight the sport of swimming."
On a local level, the race gave competitors an opportunity to swim alongside athletes they'd normally be rivals with during the high school season.
"That's absolutely the best part," Montplaisir said. "In the rest of the season, the individuals on Team North Dakota, Team Minnesota, whatever, are competing against each other. In the water they're fierce competitors and as soon as the race is over, you're going out to dinner, you're laughing and going to movies and being part of the same social network."
Elsa Musselman, a sophomore at Grand Forks Red River, agrees, and was even seen embracing Eastern Dakota Conference rival Tierney Howell of West Fargo Sheyenne after the pair finished third and fifth respectively in the 100-meter freestyle Sunday.
"Coming to zones with all the girls from North Dakota is really good for competition," said Musselman, who swam a winning time of 27.15 seconds in the 50 free on Friday. "I like it a lot."
Team North Dakota also got a runner-up finish in the boys race, as Logan Hill of the Minot Swim Club was second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:17.27.
Montplaisir brought the Central Zone race to Hulbert hoping it would be a springboard towards bringing even bigger events to West Fargo in the future. And despite a few minor behind-the-scenes hiccups, she believes she and her staff cleared the first significant hurdle towards achieving that goal.
"I think absolutely the venue can continue to host Central Zone meets or maybe even something up to the next level," she said. "We certainly learned things that can be fixed for the future, but as far as the overall operations, I think it was a smashing success."
Howell takes fifth in the 100 free
Representing the Flyers, Tierney Howell's fifth-place finish in the 100 free Sunday was the top showing by any West Fargo swimmer..
It was the first top-five finish for Howell, who'd previously earned two top-eight finishes at Central Zone events.
"I thought I did pretty well," Howell said. "I'm very happy with how I placed. I'm glad it's over because I worked really hard and am really tired. Just excited to have a little break."
Howell, who's also competed in events in Bismarck, Grand Forks and Aberdeen S.D. this summer, has not shortage of ideas for ways to fill her expanding social calendar.
"I will be going to the lake and hopefully skiing and relaxing in a hammock, reading," she said. "Just having fun."