Valkyries swim season a challenging one, but fun
Maci Pickens swims the freestyle for the Valkyries during action at the Summit in Kalispell Saturday. (Jeremy Weber/Bigfork Eagle)
| February 8, 2024 10:50 AM
The 2023-2024 season for Bigfork’s swim team has been an eventful one, to say the least. The group has undergone a few changes this year such as getting a new coach, former Vikings head football coach Jim Benn.
This is Benn’s first year coaching swim and his time has been full of both challenges and successes.
“I think my biggest challenge was learning a new sport and the intricacies and the rules that go with it,” Benn commented.
As state is rapidly approaching, the girls are both excited and nervous for their team’s prospects.
Senior Erika Dowling, who has been a part of the swim program since her freshman year, shared some of the challenges of different coaching strategies.
“My biggest challenge was swimming under a new coach,” she said. “However, I think one of our biggest successes was pushing through this and continuing to strive to be the best we can be.”
The Valkyries say they are excited to be heading to the state meet in Great Falls Friday and Saturday, where they hope to make a splash.
“I have mixed emotions about state. I am excited, nervous, sad, but mostly excited. I can not wait to go through this adventure with my teammates and coaches alongside,” stated Danika Bucklin, another senior. “Kind of sad that it is my [last] year, but there is not anyone else I would want to do this with.”
The cold snap and ice this January made it difficult for winter sports and the resulting canceled practices and meets for the swim team took their toll on the Valkyries.
“Losing two meets made qualifying for state that much harder,” Kylie Kinslow noted.
Despite dealing with these lost opportunities, the team is optimistic about their prospects this weekend.
“Swimming has taught me hard work truly does pay off,” Bucklin said. “I hope that everyone’s hard work pays off, and that everyone is happy. I want this season to be known as one of the best in their books.”
“I expect the swim team to put forth their best effort, finish without any regrets, and take heart in the experience,” Dowling added. “I can’t thank my teammates enough for all the laughter and encouragement they have brought into these past few seasons.”