Lights on at the Babbitt pool

New timing system in place as Nighthawks open new season

by Tom Coombe
The lights of a new timing system only added to the excitement Tuesday at the Babbitt pool.
Spectators were allowed in without capacity restrictions, and the 2021 high school girls swimming season began without a cloud of COVID restrictions.
Northeast Range/Ely, with a heavy emphasis on Ely, meet a deeper International Falls team and lost 59-31 but the result told just part of the story.
The Nighthawks showed off their brand-new $25,000 timing system, which is the result of a major fundraising effort and brings the Babbitt pool in line with most others in the region.
It made for a more meet-like feel for the home opener, according to head coach Cheri DeBeltz.
“It was fun to see and the girls are so excited about it,“ said DeBeltz. “It adds a different layer. It adds to that competitive edge, not that they didn’t have it before, but to see the times up on the wall and see their times being displayed it adds a different feel to the meet for these kids.”
International Falls swimmers ranked first on the timing board in nine of the meet’s 11 events, but DeBeltz said she was satisfied with her team’s performance.
“I’m happy with where they swam Tuesday,” she said. “I think as far as overall expectations, we’re right where we want to be. We don’t care whether we win or lose meets. That’s always nice, but we want to see the girls improving their times and their strokes.”
A whopping 16 of the 18 NRE swimmers are from Ely, including returning All-Section 7A honoree Lily Tedrick.
A junior, Tedrick picked up one of the Nighthawks’ two individual wins on Tuesday, taking first in the 200 yard individual medley in 2:42.25.
She also took second in the 100 butterfly (1:18.76) and was part of two second-place NRE relays.
Also tasting victory in the opener was Anna Larson, who was first in the 200 freestyle in 2:36.04, racking up a better than 17-second margin of victory.
Tedrick and Larson formed half of the combination for two of the Nighthawks’ three second-place relays.
They teamed with Esther Anderson and Grace Sundell in the 200 freestyle relay, and Anderson and Kelly Thompson on a 400 freestyle relay that fell short of first by less than a second.
It was Anderson, Larson, Thompson and Cylvia DeBeltz who came together on a second-place 200 medley relay.
Thompson was second individually in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events, while Maggie Dammann took second in the 100 backstroke.
Individual thirds went to Lauren Olson (200 freestyle) and Alli Krekelberg (100 breaststroke).
The Nighthawks are adjusting to new elements this season, not only the timing system but practice routines as well as team members climb in age.
“We’re kind of adjusting,” said DeBeltz. “The team is getting older and we have a lot of girls doing PSEO (post-secondary enrollment option at Vermilion Community College). We’re figuring out how to practice and work around some of those things in life these kids now have. We’ve just got to get back in the pool on a consistent basis, start practicing together as a team and get back in full stride.”
The schedule includes five home meets at the Babbitt pool.