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Season opens with three-day invitational, which starts this Friday in Prineville

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Emma Hehn works on her freestyle technique during practice late last week. Hehn is one of a large contingent of returning swimmers from last year's district championship Prineville Swim Team.The Prineville Swim Team has gotten a slow start to the season.

"We finally have water," an excited head coach Haley Estes said late last week. "We have been doing dryland practices for three weeks, but it's completely different in the water."

The team finally was able to get into the pool last week, giving them most of two weeks before their first meet, a home meet that starts Friday evening.

Still, Estes cautioned that with so little time in the water, it is likely that the team will have several swimmers disqualified for illegal strokes in the opening meet.

"We are a little rough on technique, so we are working hard on that," she said. "We are probably going to have a lot of disqualifications this first meet."

Despite the slow start, Estes is pleased with what she has seen from her team so far.

"We have 81 swimmers registered now, and we are expecting about 10 more," she said. "That's really good. And I am expecting to see our older swimmers really progress this year. I think that they will do really well and that they will dominate their age groups."

Estes added that, although it is the older swimmers who are the most experienced and are expected to score the bulk of the team's points, at least early in the season, there are also strong swimmers in the younger age groups.

"We have some very talented swimmers this year," she said. "I have some young ones who will do very well. They are going to be at the top of their age group."

Estes chose not to single out any swimmers this early in the year, preferring to concentrate on how hard the entire team has been working.

"Let's leave it as a group right now," she said. "They are all working hard, so let's wait until we see how they do at the first meet."

The opening meet in Prineville will feature Cascade East rivals Lakeview, John Day and Burns as well as year-round programs from Redmond, Bend and Klamath Falls.

Estes expects that with the year-round teams competing in the opening meet, competition will be stiff at the opening meet.

Still, it is that competition that the team needs to be ready for the district championships.

Prineville Swim Team won last year's district title and with so many returning swimmers and solid numbers across a wide range of age groups, Estes believes that the team has a solid opportunity to repeat as champions.

In order to be ready for district, Estes has scheduled one more meet than usual for the team. That meet will take place at Redmond over the Fourth of July weekend.

The Prineville Invitational starts Friday at 6 p.m. The meet continues both Saturday and Sunday with swimming starting at 9 a.m. both days.

Following this weekend's meet, the team travels to Lakeview June 28-30, Redmond July 6-7, Burns July 12-14, and John Day July 19-21.

The season will end with the Cascade East District Championships, which are scheduled for July 26-28 at a yet to be determined site.


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