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  Comments (0) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
 
Glacier’s Talent Pool
The vaunted Wolfpack swim team, led by Jordan and Joshua Loyda, are swimming after state records and championships
Freshman Jake Cirincione propels himself momentarily out of the water while swimming the butterfly during a recent practice at The Summit in Kalispell. Cirincione has the third fastest 200 medley time and the second fastest butterfly in the state. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
It’s common for Dave Lillard to arrive at the swimming pool around 5 a.m. and find two teenage brothers already taking laps.

Lillard, a former collegiate swimmer and the new head swim coach for Glacier and Flathead, has shared countless pre-dawn mornings training alongside Jordan and Joshua Loyda at The Summit in Kalispell.

“There’s no reason they have to get up that early and work out,” Lillard said. “They’re excited to work hard. It’s that sort of dedication and drive that’s made them so good. You can chalk some of it up to talent — and they certainly have talent — but they work hard.”

After sitting out of official high school competition a year ago, two of the best swimmers in Montana are back with the Wolfpack, doggedly pursuing state records and championships, including the school’s first-ever team title.

The all-class state swim meet is Feb. 8-9 in Hardin. Glacier High yet again has an impressive group of boys that could bring home several medals. A team trophy is also within grasp, a feat that has eluded previous squads similarly loaded with talent.

“I’m always nervous (before state) but I’m feeling a lot better and feeling stronger about it,” Jordan said recently after practice.

Based on regular season competition this season, Glacier’s top four swimmers — Jordan, Joshua, Logan Streit and Jake Cirincione — all rank in the top three in Montana for multiple events. Combined they make up the best 200 and 400 yard freestyle relay teams by wide margins. The school’s fifth-best swimmer, Alex Augusta, is also capable of contributing at the state meet by placing in the top 12.

All together, that’s a lot of points that could pile up in Hardin.

“I feel very fortunate,” Lillard said.

Since taking over for former head coach Brandon Rannebarger, Lillard has challenged team members from Glacier and Flathead to reach new heights. That’s exactly what’s happened, especially for the boys.

Five boys school records and four girls records have been broken so far at Glacier. The boys 200 freestyle relay team has beaten its own record at every meet.

At the 36th annual Washington Open two weeks ago, Jordan Loyda clocked 21.96 in the 50 freestyle. That’s the fastest time for a Montana swimmer this season, and near the state record time of 21.35, set in 1992 by Thad Michalson from Helena.

Joshua Loyda completes a 100-yard swim alternating between backstroke and freestyle during a recent practice at The Summit in Kalispell. Loyda, a junior, ranks second in the state in the 200 freestyle, third in the 50 freestyle, sixth in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 500 freestyle. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon


Jordan, a senior, also ranks third among Montana swimmers in both the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. He already owns the 200 freestyle school record and has set two others this season as well as contributing on both record-setting relays.

Joshua, a junior and member of the relay teams, ranks second in the state in the 200 freestyle, third in the 50 freestyle, sixth in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 500 freestyle.

The relays are first in the 200 freestyle by two seconds and first in the 400 relay by more than five seconds.

“It’s been really great to see these guys keep improving,” Lillard said. “They’re not satisfied with doing the same old thing every meet. They want to get faster.”

The Loydas began swimming out of necessity.

Complications during Joshua’s birth forced the doctor to sever the nerves on the child’s right side. Joshua was born safely but with Erb’s palsy, a paralysis of the arm. He couldn’t move his right arm or leg until he was a few months old. Doctors recommended that Joshua try swimming as a way to rehabilitate his muscles and regain full motion. Barely three years old, Joshua began taking lessons, and his older brother joined him.

“I got into it because of Josh and we kind of just got into it and stayed with it,” Jordan said.

In middle school, the family moved from Wisconsin to Kalispell, and the brothers stuck with swimming. They joined KATS and began competing with teams, and by high school their talents began flourishing.

As a freshman at Flathead, Jordan placed eighth at state in the 500 yard freestyle. The following year, after moving to Glacier, he became the first individual state champion swimmer in school history, winning the 200 freestyle title. He also anchored the state title relay teams in the 200 and 400 freestyles.

Dave Lillard, top, talks with his swimmers during a recent practice at The Summit in Kalispell. Lillard is a former collegiate swimmer and the new head coach for Glacier and Flathead. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon


Last year both Jordan and Joshua stepped away from Montana High School Association sanctioned meets and competed on their own across the Northwest.

Streit emerged as a leader in the Loydas’ absence and earned three top-six finishes. But the team finished seventh overall with 65 points.

This season the tides have turned. The Loydas are back and motivated to win a title together. Streit is swimming better than ever, and is ranked first in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 50. Cirincione, a freshman, has achieved the third fastest 200 medley time and second fastest butterfly in the state.

“This year, competing with the high school, we actually have a team to swim with and we practice a lot harder,” Jordan said. “It shows in meets.”

The girls could also bring home a range of medals. Glacier senior MaKenna Siebenaler holds three school records and ranks in the top 10 in three events. Teammate Jessica Stenberg, who holds a school record, ranks fifth in the 500 freestyle. Flathead senior Cassie Krueger is third in the 50 freestyle.

With a large pool of talent, Lillard has had to slow down practices in these final days before state. His inspired swimmers need to rest. But even if he tames down practices, he knows the next morning at 5 a.m. there will be a few teenagers taking laps.
“That shows some mental toughness and physical toughness,” he said. “They’ll be ready to explode at state.”
 
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