If you had asked Hayden Lee a month or two ago about his goals for his senior year of boys swim competition, he likely would have hoped to simply have a season at all, and if there was one to remain healthy.
Now Milton High’s lone senior swimmer said he wants nothing more than to leave the Red Hawks program set up in good shape for after he is graduated and gone.
“I’m so very happy that this was able to happen. Things this year have been so difficult for so many reasons, so something I can at least understand is greatly appreciated,” Lee said of the swim season, which started the first week of January after being delayed by the school board due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Lately ... the goal for the season is more to prepare for next season, as by then the team will have a new pool and a better more normal season.”
Milton opened its season Jan. 4 with a 94-74 loss at home to DeForest. The Red Hawks took on McFarland a day later, losing 118-50.
More than wins and losses, Red Hawks coach Lindsey Hassenfelt is simply focused on giving her swimmers a memorable season.
“I knew it would be different, but i need to make it one to remember,” Hassenfelt said. “Building relationships is super important, and I think that instilling that in each and every one of them has helped build up spirits in their lives and my own.
“I always will have the “give it all you got” goal so even if it’s not their best time but they get out of that pool and are tired and are out of breath, that shows me they gave it all they got.”
Hassenfelt has been proud of the effort her team has given over its first couple competitions.
Against Deforest, Ryker Bailey won the 50-yard freestyle in 25.23 seconds and was second in the 100 butterfly. Erik Schultz won the 200 free in 2:06.35 and was second in the 500 free. And James Axe won the 100 breaststroke in 1:16.21 and was second in the 200 individual medley.
Against McFarland, Hassenfelt said Rider Jarzen set his personal-best mark in the 50 free, taking second in 24.98. And Noah Brenden set his PR in the 100 free, taking sixth in 1:02.56.
“I am super happy that I get to swim this year. Even if the circumstances aren’t how I would like them, it’s nice to see my team and keep in swimming shape to improve times,” said Jarzen, another team captain. “My individual goal for this year is to keep positivity going throughout the year.
“As a team goal, we want to give our best every time we race, even if it’s not the time you wanted or place you wanted, if you still (do) your best then that’s what matters.”
Bailey, the third team captain, said he and his teammates are simply happy to have a season and have done their best to keep up their training during the pandemic.
“A goal for myself would be to tighten up my starts and work toward bettering my times,” Bailey said. “A goal for the team is to improve with each race and get faster over time, and our practices help with that. We do a lot of sprint work in practice to prepare ourselves for the races ahead.”
Hassenfelt said she hopes the team sees its hard work pay off in the form of winning a couple dual meets.
“Even though the location for the state meet is still up in the air, we are still reaching for (our) goals,” Hassenfelt said. “This year has been really tough for my top returning swimmers, as most of them did not have very many opportunities to continue to train through COVID.”
Hassenfelt praised the leadership of her captains, and especially her lone senior, Lee.
If Lee can carry out his goal of helping to continue to lay the foundation for the Red Hawks’ future, that future should be bright.
“When the new pool opens, I have plans for yearly alumni meets; I want to bring back as many people to Milton as possible from past years to see all the positive changes that are happening in the district and to see our beautiful new pool,” Hassenfelt said. “In coming years, I hope to to start a middle school swim team for boys and girls that are 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders in the district.”
McFARLAND 118, MILTON 50
200 medley relay—McFarland 2:05.55, Milton 2:21.31. 200 free—Luke Morrison (Mcf) 1:57.95, 2. Erik Schultz (Mil) 2:08.43. 200 IM—Lyon Hall (Mcf) 2:11.01. 50 free—Zabawa-Lodholz (Mcf) 24.41, Rider Jarzen (Mil) 24.98. 100 fly—Ansel Kreft (Mcf) 56.21. 100 free—Hall 52.94, Jarzen 56.16. 500 free—Luke Mandii (Mcf) 5:36.87. 200 free relay—McFarland 1:38.12, 2. Milton 1:38.87. 100 back—Kreft 59.38. 100 breaststroke—Mandii 1:08.54, 2. Gavin Bartels (Mil) 1:12.52. 400 free relay—McFarland 3:33.97.