A strange sight for Lakeville swimmers

North, South practices together, competes against each other

It was an odd situation for the Lakeville North and South swimming and diving teams at Kenwood Trail Middle School on Sept. 20.

In some ways it was familiar. The Cougar and Panther girls swimmers were in the same pool. Not so strange because they practice with each other at the same time at the same pool with the same coaches.

But this time they were cheering against each other, sort of, in a dual meet. There’s a winner and a loser. In every other rivalry match between Lakeville North and South, the winner gains bragging rights. But the traditional handshakes give way to hugs at the end.

“I would say that this meet is my least favorite of the season due to the fact that we work with all of the girls regardless of what school they are from,” Lakeville North coach Dan Schneider said. “How can I cheer against them when I want them all to succeed? That is something I can’t do.”

Still, the girls on each team wanted to win.

“It was very much like when brothers and sisters take each other on in family competitions,” Lakeville South head coach Rick Ringeisen said. “You don’t back down and you give everything you have to do your best.”

The pool was at capacity with many alumni attending.

The programs were celebrating the fact that Ringeisen is now coaching his 100th high school sports season. He’s entering his 34th season coaching girls and boys swimming as well as track and field.

“I was overwhelmed and deeply honored,” Ringeisen said. “The athletes felt the energy and tradition seeing so many of the alums and really responded.”

The coaches have each other’s teams scouted well after working with them in practice all season and often coaching them. Each coach does his own lineup, and then they’re posted to much excitement as the girls are anxious to see the matchups.

“Going into the meet I knew Lakeville North would outlast us on team depth so I set up as many races as I could,” Ringeisen said. “The plan was to leave the pool that night a much better team than when we started the meet, and that is exactly what happened.”

Lakeville North won 95.5-85.5, handing South its first dual loss of the season.

Any Panther win is impressive considering the team doesn’t have divers.

“We are always down 13-0 before we start the meet,” Schneider said. “It makes it tougher to win.”

The Panthers won seven events including the 200-yard medley relay (Zoya Wahlstrom, Alena Bodnaruk, Erin Kleiner, Emily Spencer) and the 200 freestyle relay (Kleiner, Brenna Smith, Julia and Alena Bodnaruk). Other winners were Julia Bodnaruk (200 freestyle), Kleiner (50 freestyle), Wahlstrom (100 butterfly), Smith (100 freestyle) and Alena Bodnaruk (100 breaststroke),

South won the 400 freestyle relay (Carrie Schrock, Brianna Alexander, Jarin Simpson, Shea Bougie). Other winners included Bougie (200 individual medley and 100 backstroke) and Alexander (500 freestyle).

The Cougars are 4-1 in the South Suburban Conference, good for a second-place tie with Lakeville North. Rosemount is in the lead with a 5-0 record.

Lakeville North went up against Rosemount on Thursday, after Sun Thisweek’s deadline.