LAPORTE | The swimming season can at times become a grind. Teams practice twice a day throughout the week, with breaks becoming more and more rare as the winter goes on.
But each year, a handful of area teams participate in the LaPorte Girls Swim Invitational, which doesn’t count toward season wins and losses, and offers swimmers a chance to have a little fun.
The meet is comprised entirely of relays, and includes several non-traditional events that are not found in typical dual or invitational meets. The 400-yard freestyle relay (with eight swimmers racing 25 yards) joins the 400 breaststroke and backstroke relays as races that are unique to the LaPorte Invitational.
Crown Point took first at the meet this year with 203 points. The win gave the Bulldogs their fourth straight title at the meet.
Valparaiso finished second with 169 and Chesterton rounded out the top three with a score of 142. Michigan City finished a close fourth behind the Trojans with 134 points, followed by Highland (110), Portage (102) and LaPorte (80).
Slicers coach Bart Frank said his team has hosted the meet for about 20 years to give coaches the chance to get split times for their swimmers.
“It’s all about getting times on kids,” he said. “It does more for the coaches because you have to six to eight (swimmers) deep (in each relay). For the kids it’s a lot of fun because everybody gets to be a part of it.”
LaPorte won the closest races of the day – the 200-yard butterfly relay – in which the Slicers edges Highland by just .23 seconds with a time of 2:02.50.
The top two finishers, Valpo and Crown Point, chased each other throughout the event, finishing next to each other in eight of the meet’s 13 events.
Crown Point coaches were not available for comment after the meet.
Valpo coach Pete Sattler said the LaPorte Invitational gave him a chance to see how his team responded to “swimming tired” after a week of tough practices. He added that the meet also gave swimmers a chance to enjoy a little camaraderie.
“We’re able to move some of the girls around and mix things up,” Sattler said. “I try to swim as many girls as I can and also just let them sit together and have getting to know each other a little better.”