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Swimming & diving: SEMS puts on show at state

SEMS - which is based in Woodbury and Cottage Grove - sent 58 swimmers to the Minnesota State Meet held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center from July 25-28. SEMS senior state participants were: From left, front row, front row: Sophia Serafimov, Lucia Rizzo, Shenyn Gale, Sidney Swanson, Stephanie McKeen, Taylor Blatchford, Ana Sortland, Maddie Strong, Meredith Ubel, William Ho, Kevin McPherson; and back, coach Zack Devine, Brady Bennett, Coach Brian Gorman, Pierce Firebaugh, Alec Kandt, James Ti...1 / 4
SEMS coach Pat Underhill poses with the SEMS Boys 11-12 year-old state relay team of Tim Rizzo, Casey McGrath, Jacob Tidd and Justin Bailey. (Submitted photo)2 / 4
From left, SEMS swimmers Olivia Iverson, Lauren Lewis, Gabby Vitela and Tiana Cachuela competed at state in the girls 11-12 year-old 400-yard freestyle relay. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
SEMS 9-10 year-old swimmers Robbie Wittiko, Daphne Smoley, Jane Bettman, and Sophia Vitela prepare to sing the National Anthem at the MRC Regional Championships in Winona. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

As the summer swim season closes in on the finish line the South East Metro Sharks swim club is reeling in the hardware.

Most recently, SEMS - which is based in Woodbury and Cottage Grove - sent 58 swimmers to the Minnesota State Meet held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center from July 25-28. As a team, SEMS finished in eighth place out of 64 teams achieving 120 personal-best times, nine state champions (six relays and three individual), and 13 new team records.

James Tidd - who will be a junior at East Ridge High School - earned five state championships. Individually, Tidd won the men's 50-yard freestyle in the 15-16 year old age group. Tidd was also part of four state champion relay teams - three at the 15-16 age group: The 200-yard free relay, the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard free relay and one "open" event: The open 400-yard medley relay.

Other members of the open 400 medley team were Alec Kandt, East Ridge graduate Matt Koken and Kevin McPherson.

East Ridge junior Garrett Verhoeven brought home two state titles - individually in the 15-16 year old 200-yard freestyle and as part of the 15-16 year old 800-yard free relay team.

Kevin McPherson, who goes to Tartan, was part of five state champion relay teams, four at the 15-16 year-old level: The 800-yard free relay, the 200-yard free relay, the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard free relay; and one "open" event: the open 400-yard medley relay.

Woodbury sophomore Brady Bennett was part of four state champion relay teams at the 15-16 year-old level --EMDASH-- the 800-yard free, the 400-yard free, the 200-yard free and the 400-yard medley relay. Mannix Burns also earned three state titles as part of 15-16 year old relay teams --EMDASH-- the 800 free, the 200 free and the 200 medley.

Also, at the 15-16 year old level, Woodbury's William Ho competed with the state champion 400-yard and 200-yard medley relay teams, Kendan Iverson was part of the winning 400-yard medley relay and the 400-yard free relay and Tartan's Ryan McPherson was on the winning 400-yard medley relay.

In the 17-18 year old competition, East Ridge senior Sam Scholz won the state championship title in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Prior to the state meet, 82 SEMS swimmers participated at the Minnesota Regional Championship Meet held in Winona from July 19-21. Overall the team finished in second place. Nine different swimmers earned a total of 31 new championship time standards for the state meet and 239 personal-best times.

In addition, 38 12-and-under swimmers competed at the C-Finals Championship Meet in Anoka on July 13-14, achieving 73 personal-best times. In addition, 12 swimmers qualified for 23 new races at the Minnesota Regional Championships.

SEMS swimmers continue their championship season this week at the NCSA Junior National Summer Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., with eight swimmers attending the meet to compete with some of the best 18-and-under swimmers in the country. In addition, SEMS is sending five 14-and-under swimmers to represent Team Minnesota at the Central Zone Championship Meet in Topeka, Kan., this weekend. The Zone Championships showcases the fastest young athletes from 10 states throughout the Midwest (including Minnesota).

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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