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CEC girls swim team ready to dive into season

For first-year Cloquet-Esko-Carlton head swimming Coach Kayla Cresap, one of her goals is to see her own name disappear from the school’s record list.

Cresap, a 2009 CHS graduate who is now aquatics coordinator for Cloquet Community Education, is a school record holder, as one of the four members of the school’s best-ever 400 meter medley relay team.

“My main goal this year is to have that 400 team beat that record,” Cresap said. “That’s what I’m aiming for, and our coaches want to coach the team that beats our record.”

That’s not just idle talk. Cresap coaches a talented and young group of swimmers who she believes can get that job done.

“We have 28 girls out for the team and a lot of them are in seventh, eighth and ninth grades,” Cresap said. “They show a lot of promise and some of the youngest swimmers are on that top relay team.”

The team has five seniors on its official roster — captains Lexis Wysocki and Emily Matlack are joined by Carly Boder, Emily Acers and Katharina Lenz as members of the Class of 2015.

“Lexis is a second-year captain and our star,” Cresap said. “Emily is a very hard worker, the hardest worker on the team, but she has had shoulder injuries in the past.”

Boder has also fought injury, but Cresap is optimistic due to some young swimmers.

Eighth-grader Makayla Suominen and freshman Rachel Gorski are both homeschooled but swimming with the Cloquet team — and they are half of that 400 relay team Cresap is so excited about.

“Makayla swam a 27-second time in her 50 free last year as a first year swimmer, which is amazing,” Cresap said. “Most first-year swimmers are at 47 seconds to a minute for that time. Rachel is also very good. I mentioned that Lexis is our star, but both of these two are challenging her.”

Young swimmers, like young cross country runners, can have an advantage in girls varsity competition.

“You don’t have to be a tiny little thing to compete, you can be a powerful girl, but every girl is different and we have two young swimmers who can be very good,” Cresap said.

The two are joined by Wysocki and sophomore Faith Carlson on the team, and there are high hopes.

Cresap has instituted a set of three goals for each swimmer — for early in the season, mid-season and the end. The result has been a very good attitude on the part of her girls.

“For example, the goal of the 200 relay team at the end of the year is State,” Cresap said. “Their heads are in the right place and what we have is a goal-oriented group that we haven’t had in the past.”

Cresap, who served as an assistant coach after graduation, is getting her first opportunity to be a head coach and is understandably excited about the young group she inherits.

“I’ve been very surprised about the hard work and dedication the girls have shown to their goals,” Cresap said. “It was a complete 180-degree turn from when I was an assistant. Then the girls had goals to qualify at sections. Now, it is ‘I am going to qualify’ instead, and ‘I am going to State.’ I love that they’re so positive about things.”

The team is also happy to be at home in Herb Drew Pool with a functioning heater. That wasn’t the case last season.

“Everyone wishes we had a bigger pool,” Cresap said. “We have five lanes and with 28 girls it’s crowded but it works. We’re happy we have a pool, because some districts don’t have a pool or access and they have to travel. Last year the heater didn’t work and these girls swam in that water right through to sections without a heater on. That’s dedication right there.”

The team will start its season with the informal Spartan Relays Sept. 6, which will provide a good opportunity for the team to test out that 400-relay team. The first dual meet is at home Sept. 9 against Proctor.

“We have three meets a week sometimes in September and it slows down in October,” Cresap said. “At our jamboree event last Thursday things went really well. The girls are doing very well with their times for only 10 days of practice.”

Cresap and her young team are hoping that, from there, the sky is the limit.