Congratulations to first-year swim coach Brandon Rannebarger, who heads up the teams at both Glacier and Flathead high schools. Between the two rosters, Rannebarger has 58 swimmers this year, compared to about 20 or so last year. Counting boys and girls, Glacier has 37 kids and Flathead has 21. Rannebarger is rightfully ecstatic.
Last year the two schools sent a handful of athletes to state, with several placing high. With that foundation to build on, strengthened by a great turnout this year, we should look forward to a big year for Kalispell swimming. Among those returning from last year is Phil Rempe, one of the top swimmers in the state. At the 2007-2008 state championships Rempe finished in the top five in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard butterfly.
Swimmers are a rare breed. They practice year-round, waking up well before dawn in the winter and arriving at the Woodland Park swimming pool just after dawn in the summer. Some of them participate in other sports, but for most swimming is their sole passion. Or at least it’s their foremost passion. To get a better feel for how hard these kids work, you can click on this story I wrote about the swim teams last year. Just for good measure, here’s another story I wrote on the swimmers in the summer.
Rannebarger replaced legendary coach Paul Stelter, who retired last year. Rannebarger coached under Stelter last year and learned the ropes, though Rannebarger has extensive experience in coaching elsewhere. When Rannebarger took over, he worked hard in the off-season to promote the both the high school and KATS programs. KATS is a year-round swim program with opportunities for kids from the age of 5 to 18.
His efforts, along with strong community support, have paid off. Keep your eye on the swim teams at Glacier and Flathead high schools this year. They’re loaded with already-established talent, but the high turnout means a lot of other kids are ready to prove themselves as the season gets underway. Their first meet is on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Summit Medical Fitness Center in North Kalispell.
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