The Forest Lake boys swim team began a difficult portion of its schedule by winning its first meet of the season.

The Rangers claimed a 96-87 Suburban East Conference victory over Irondale on Thursday, Jan. 6, at the Forest Lake Education Center pool. Coach Dominick Mancini said he was pleased by the performance of everyone on the roster.

“We told the boys before the meet it should be a close meet, a fun meet,” he said. “We had a bunch of swimmers who realized that every place mattered, every point mattered, and that made the difference.”

Forest Lake fell behind early in the meet despite a win by junior Joe Galsworthy in the 200 free with a time of 2:00.64. The deficit ballooned to 44-31 despite a first-place effort by eighth grader Jamison Livermore in diving, which he won with a 168.35 score.

From that point the Rangers started racking up both event victories and points from a variety of sources. A perfect example was a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 free, with sophomore Beau Brady (54.54) finishing first, followed by junior Riley Siedow (56.73) and junior Ryan Eddy (57.96).

Forest Lake’s 200 free relay of Brady, junior Brady Thompson, Galsworthy and Siedow also won with a time of 1:42.49, and a 1-2-4 finish in the 100 breast gave the Rangers some breathing room. Eddy finished first in the breast with a time of 1:09.79, while Thompson (1:17.16) was second and eighth grader Thatcher Robertson (1:23.49) was fourth.

A second-place effort by the 400 free relay of Brady, senior Brody McGovern, Galsworthy and Siedow sewed up the victory.

“The first win of the year is always wonderful,” Mancini said. “But there are times where individual meets are secondary to individual improvement. We’re talking about small improvements that don’t show up in big time drops. For example, in this meet we talked about really keeping our heads down in the final 15 feet of a race and driving to the wall to finish.

“Everyone was working on it, and those are the things that will add up at the end of the year.”

The Rangers will be extremely busy in the next few weeks. That busy schedule included a meet at Stillwater on Tuesday, Jan. 11, that was not completed at press time; it was followed by another SEC meet at home against Mounds View two nights later.

The True Team Section meet will take place on Saturday, Jan. 15, and next week the Rangers will host East Ridge on Thursday, Jan. 20, before swimming at the Tartan Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 22.

“This is the hardest part of our season, because we have three meets next week and two meets the week after that,” Mancini said. “We basically have five meets in nine days, so it becomes a big challenge. Guys are going to get worn down, and as coaches we want to balance that for them, and we want them to have fun.

“But it’s a grind. We’ve actually increased our distances and the intensity of our practices. But this is a good group of guys who want to do the work, and they’re willing to do the work.”

Mancini stressed that pushing through this period is essential if the team wishes to reach its goals.

“It’s a month-long challenge, but it’s a month where we build towards our end-of-season goals,” Mancini said. “December was about drilling on little things; January is about getting better at the big things. It’s a challenge, and our guys are going to be tired. But they need to push through that exhaustion.”

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