MANKATO — The Mankato East/Loyola girls swimming and diving team will be young again in 2013 but they should have quality, veteran leadership at the top of the lineup.
The team's top returning swimmers are senior Chandra Bouma (breaststroke) and junior Erica Ellstrom (butterfly). Boma is one of the team's captains along with Mariah Bauer and Ashley Robinson. She and Ellstrom will not only provide the team with quality experience but should be among the team's top point-scorers in 2013.
The Cougars have about 25 swimmers out in grades 9-12. Throw in about three or four junior-high swimmers who should contribute on varsity, and first-year head coach Amanda Stevens will have close to 30 swimmers to chose from when making out her lineup.
Count Ellstrom among those who are optimistic about 2013.
"We have a pretty talented group of young swimmers out," she said. "We're hoping we can put a strong medley relay team together and take a run at the school record."
Ellstrom said she'd also like to take a crack at the school record in the 100-yard butterfly. Her personal best is 1:05.95, and the school record of 1:03.79 was set by Abby Connell in 2011.
Bouma is also looking forward to a good year. She's trying to get faster in the breaststroke and is kind of feeling out what other strokes she wants to compete in this year.
"I did the 500 the other day and had a decent time so I may end up doing that," she said. "Not a lot of people want to swim that so I may end up doing it by default."
Stevens said both swimmers have been great team leaders in the preseason and in the early going of the 2013 campaign.
"They're both very coachable," she said. "They're willing to help the younger swimmers. I expect both of them to have good years for us."