Bridgman’s girls swimming team graduated its core from last season’s Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference-winning team, but the co-op squad still has some strong young swimmers and divers that should boost the Bees this season.
“We’ve started off really strong,” Bridgman coach Emily Nannfeldt said. “We lost four really good swimmers, four really strong athletes that were state contributors, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I ended up having nine freshmen this year, and probably six of them are really, really solid.”
Nannfeldt said she’s excited to have a swimmer from each of the seven schools in the co-op this season. The team will feature swimmers and divers from Bridgman, Lakeshore, Berrien Springs, New Buffalo, Lake Michigan Catholic, Buchanan and Niles.
Lakeshore senior Sophia Korfmacher is a returning state-finalist swimmer.
Korfmacher is an all around swimmer, and can tackle multiple events. She is strongest in the breast stroke, but will also swim the back stroke, butterfly and individual medley. She was second in the conference last year in the breast stroke.
Alicia Delgado, also a senior from Lakeshore, swims distance and was a state qualifier last fall.
Emily Jotzat is senior from Bridgman. She swims the intermediate medley and backstroke.
Nannfeldt said multiple freshmen swimmers should also contribute.
“I have a lot of girls that I’m really excited about,” she said.
Madylin Keigley, from Berrien Springs, is one of those freshmen. She is a solid flyer and backstroker, said Nannfeldt.
Nannfeldt also said she’s excited to see the progression of Niles’ Audrey Dixon, another all around swimmer.
Lucia Gianni is a sophomore from Lakeshore. She returns for her second season after swimming in the sprint events as a freshman last fall.
Eden Gray is a freshman back stroke swimmer from Lakeshore, and Leah Horvath will represent Buchanan.
Bridgman will also have a returning point-scorer in diver Dani Morrill. Morrill, a sophomore from Lakeshore, placed second in the SMAC last season.
Bridgman junior Lena MacMartin also dives and should be a contributor this fall.
“We’ve got a really strong group, it’s really exciting,” Nannfeldt said. “I just get lucky, because we have so many strong programs around here. We get a big pool to pull from. It’s just kind of nice that there’s an opportunity for boys and girls from around the area to join a swim team, even though they don’t have a pool at their school.”
“I love working with these girls. I love how hard they work,” she added. “Being a high school coach is such an awesome opportunity to be able to work with amazing young people and watch them grown from freshmen to seniors. I’m loving every minute of it.”
St. Joseph’s girls swim team finished 5-7 last fall, leading to a middle-of-the-pack conference finish.
Bears coach Janet Beemer believes she has some talented swimmers and divers that could make a difference for St. Joseph.
“This team’s strength is in its commitment to team and to work towards swimming faster,” Beemer said. “There is a number of swimmers with many years of swimming experience, but more with little experience. They are becoming better every day. I am definitely working to build the program.”
St. Joseph has three seniors on the roster, with seven juniors, 10 sophomores and three freshmen.
Key returners for the Bears are Cici Strickler and Sylvia Parks. Both Strickler and Parks swam at the Division 2 state finals last season.
Strickler, the Bears’ senior captain, is a sprinter, with Parks, a junior, swimming all strokes. Torrie Balfe is also a senior captain. She is a distance swimmer.
Sophomore Addie Straub will be another distance threat, and junior Jordan Block is a well-rounded swimmer that can plug in anywhere, said Beemer. Ella Ott can do so as well, but specializes in breast stroke.
Beemer said she’s looking forward to seeing how freshman Breanne Pratley develops in the butterfly, back stroke and IM.
Beemer’s main concern is inexperience. While the Bears do return key swimmers, many of the faces in the pool will be newer this fall.
“The level of swimming in our conference is very high,” said Beemer. “We don’t have enough girls with that much experience to compete at that level.”
Beemer said she expects Bridgman to be strong in the SMAC, with Portage Central also competing. Beemer said she’s focused on improving her own swimmers.
“We hope to get better every day, every season,” she said.
Contact: bspencer@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSpencer