Blue Jays to travel east for first swim competition

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“It will be like their season never really has ended – they’re ready to go,” said Ben Smith, the head coach of swimming and diving at Jamestown High School. “We have a ton of returning girls who were state placers and a lot of girls who didn’t compete but could be state placers (this year).”

Smith and the Jays finished the 2020 season in the national swimming and diving competition in Bismarck, where the Jays placed 13th out of 17 competing teams. The Jays are expected to plan a trip to Grand Forks Central for their first game of the season. The meeting is scheduled for Friday from 5 p.m. The Blue Jays’ home opener is set to face Bismarck High on September 2.

“I don’t really know where the other teams are in terms of who’s coming back because last year was so different,” said Smith. “Some teams haven’t brought all of their athletes back because of COVID and some teams haven’t played sports.

“We have graduated a good group of seniors, but each year produces a different team,” said Smith. “We are delighted to be working with all the girls we have.”

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Smith said many of the Jays’ swimmers put in a lot of work over the summer months, training with the school’s strength and conditioning program while attending summer swim camps.

Chea Baugh, a returning junior and a member of the five-year varsity squad, was the only Blue Jay to be named to the 2020 WDA All-Conference squad. Baugh swam to declare qualifying times in all individual events except diving and 100-yard breaststroke.

Baugh also placed high in the 100 butterfly where she finished the 15th fastest swimmer in the state. Senior returner Haley Nelson was also one of the top of the Jays diving team at State, where she posted a score of 358.15. Nelson placed 10th.

Smith said in addition to individual placers like Baugh and Nelson, he also predicts the Jays will be strong in relay events. The Jays finished in the top four in all of their relay sessions last season, which Smith said will likely happen again.

The Jays will also have the opportunity to travel to compete at select Eastern Region schools this season. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, last season the Blue Jays were unable to host or compete at any EDC school.

“We’re super excited about this, it’s going to be awesome,” Smith said. “We love traveling to Fargo, it’s as far as Bismarck and we can see more of a range of competitions.”

It’s not just Eastern Region schools that the Jays will see more of this season.

The Blue Jays had to split practices last year due to COVID-19 protocols. This season, the Jays will all be training together in the Jays Bird Bath.

“It’s something that we missed last year was training together and this year we’re really going to use it and make sure our whole team feels cohesive and together,” said Smith.


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