Bozeman Masters Swim Club Finishes Strong

The following article was reprinted with the permission of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

March 31, 2008

BOZEMAN MASTERS SWIM CLUB FINISHES STRONG

By MIKE KIEFER Chronicle Sports Writer

Bozeman Masters Swim Club Finishes Strong

ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE

Elizabeth Gilje swims the backstroke in the Mixed 200-yard IM Sunday afternoon during the Montana Masters Swimming Championships at Montana State University.

Michael Dougherty was not about to let fatigue get the better of bragging rights in the waning hours of the Montana Masters short-course swimming championship on Sunday.

“I’m doing this for the high points,” Michael Dougherty said before the 1650-yard freestyle, his 10th event of the weekend. “I’m not going to let Dan Behr beat me.”

Dougherty finished his mile swim in a nearly empty Montana State University’s Hosaeus Pool, his legs cramping through the last 100 yards, but it didn’t matter. He’d tied Behr, who also owned his age group, with a perfect 70 points.

Suffice to say, Bozeman competed with itself for most of the weekend at the swimming championships. With its overwhelming numbers advantage, Bozeman outscored second-place Helena Masters by 1,357 points.

But that was hardly mentioned in the two-day competition, which featured 32 new state short-course records from a field of 102 swimmers.

“I think people get a little intimidated when they think about Masters,” said Helena coach Anne Gilbert. “They think it’s like the Olympics.”

But as 63-year-old Behr said, you get to swim what you want, “and then you get to have a beer afterwards.” At the awards banquet at the Garage restaurant, Behr treated all the Bozeman swimmers that met his challenge of six events entered, one of which had to feature butterfly.

Sunday’s highlights included the performance of 29-year-old Bozeman native Lee Cook, who finished with three new records in the breaststroke events. She was outdone only by 86-year-old Charlotte Sanddal of Helena who finished the weekend with six records.

Sunday finished with relays and the mile, capping the short-course season for a Bozeman team celebrating meteoric growth in addition to its back-to-back state team championships.

On the other end of the spectrum was the Prairie Masters Swim Team, which traveled half a day from Pierre, S.D., to attend an event where they would earn no points, only competitive experience.

The Bozeman and Pierre teams compared notes on the Nike Grant, a kind of start-up capital for Masters teams, which Bozeman received in 2005 and was the foundation for the last three years. The grant included a visit from Olympian Aaron Peirsol and a write-up in the national Masters magazine.

From there, Bozeman has boosted its numbers to the point that it outnumbers the combined rosters of the rest of the teams in the state.

For the Bozeman team, one season segues into the next with open-water, triathlon and long-course training beginning in the next week. The team uses most of Bozeman Swim Center’s 50-meter pool for pack swims to simulate the conditions of outdoor triathlon swimming.

This is the first year that the Bozeman club will feature its triathlon team.

Full meet results will be printed over the next two days in the Chronicle.

Mike Kiefer can be reached at mkiefer@dailychronicle.com and 582-2657.

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