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Blue Jay swimmers reflect on breaking records, all-state honors

Mar. 20—JAMESTOWN — Finn Moser was more than ready for the 2024 NDHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving season.

"I was incredibly excited for the JHS season," Finn, an eighth grader at Jamestown Middle School, said. "After swimming all summer, I was excited to get back together with the team. I was in the pool five days a week for two hours a day during the summer, and five one-hour practices a week in the fall before the JHS season started."

While Finn ended up a 2024 All-State Swimmer, he said his main goals for his second year as a varsity team member were to cut time in his events and improve his speed and technique.

Now that the season is over, it's safe to say he did more than that.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs to get where I am," Finn said. "Some meets have been awesome and exciting when I have cut time and races have felt good (but) not all races and meets have gone well. There was one meet where I added eight seconds in my 500 freestyle, which was the most time I've added in a race this season."

He might have added eight seconds earlier in the season, but in his last meet of the year, Finn was in total control of the 500 freestyle.

Finn set a new school record in the 500 finishing with a time of 4:57.61 to place sixth. The previous school record of 4:57.94 was set by Lief Rasmussen in 2005.

"I did not expect to break the school record in the 500 freestyle," Finn said. "I had done multiple distance workouts at practice and a lot of time went into figuring out my pace for the 500. The race itself was one of the most tiring races I had swam.

"I had to keep telling myself to keep going just so I could stay on pace for a good time," he said. "I was neck and neck with two other swimmers, and that also played a part in the outcome. Multiple times during the 500, I had to just ignore the feeling of being tired and keep pushing."

Finn's performance in the 500 freestyle, came once he had already swum a few races.

"I came into the state meet feeling somewhat anxious but mostly excited," Finn said. "I felt much better once I had finished racing the 200 freestyle, as it gave me a feel of what the rest of the meet was going to feel like."

The eighth grader placed 15th in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.

Finn was also an integral part of the Jays' 200 yard medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. In the 200 medley, Finn and his teammates completed the 200 medley in 1:42.38 to place ninth while the 400 freestyle crew placed sixth with a time of 3:29.74.

"I felt amazing after the meet, knowing that all the work that had gone into the last year of training had paid off," Finn said. "I wasn't made aware that I had been named All-State until after the meet. I was surprised — I didn't even know that was a thing.

"My coaches have played a major role in getting me to the point I'm at right now," he said. "They have been encouraging, helpful, and a fun part of the sport. (Also), I couldn't have made it to this point without the support of my family and teammates."

Finn will keep on swimming even during his offseason. The eighth grader is a part of the Prairie Rose Aquatics (PRO) Swim Club. He competed in the state short course meet last weekend. The long course season will begin at the end of April.

"I have been swimming competitively since I was 10 years old," Finn said. "Before I started swimming, I had played basketball and baseball, neither of which I was very good at. I enjoyed swimming and it just felt more natural to do this sport.

"I enjoy the coaches and my teammates," he said. "Swim meets are also a great way to meet other swimmers around the state that I get to compete with."

Finn gets to compete with two other standout swimmers regularly.

Zach Hanson and Bodi Haglund — two of the Blue Jay' top swimmers — were also named to the All-State swimming and diving squad.

"Zach and Bodi both have worked incredibly hard this season," Moser said. "Zach has the fastest 100 freestyle time on the team and Bodi in the 100 breaststroke. They have been good teammates and have been very helpful this season."

Haglund, a junior, wound up eighth in the 100 breaststroke. Haglund's time of 1:00.72 in the 100 breast set a new JHS record. Haglund broke Colton Carlson's 2018 record by 0.82 seconds.

The 100 breaststroke record was a goal Haglund had set when he was ten years old.

"When my brother joined the team, I formed relationships with the older guys on the team," Haglund said. "One Blue Jay in particular, Colton Carlson, held the previous school record for 100 breaststroke and he was my biggest idol in swimming. Ever since I watched him break the old record in 2018, it has been a dream of mine to do the same and see my name on the wall."

The dream didn't just happen.

Haglund said he had spent a lot of time focusing on making his breakout strokes more explosive and having a faster kick, the 100 breaststroke at State felt like no other breaststroke he had ever swum.

"I had nice, smooth glides with every stroke, along with pulls that were stronger than any I've ever had," Haglund said. "When I jammed my finger into the wall, I heard my friends and family cheering and saw a time of 1:00.72. I had the biggest smile and hugged my teammate in the lane next to me because I had finally reached a goal I had since I was 10."

While his school-record-breaking performance in the 100 breast was a highlight at State, Haglund was also a part of the Jays' 200 medley and freestyle relay teams. Individually, he placed sixth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.34 seconds. He placed in the top eight of all the events he competed in.

Prior to this season, Haglund had never been part of the All-State team. This season, his times in the 100 breast and 50 free pinned him as an all-stater.

Now the swim season is over, Haglund has turned his focus to baseball and trap shooting at Valley City High School.

"I expect to push hard in the gym and excel in other sports until my next swim season where I plan to swim under a minute in my 100 breaststroke and set a new team record," Haglund said.

Coming into this season, Hanson also wanted to break some records.

Hanson said he was going to try and break the Jays' standing 50 meter freestyle record of 21.53 seconds set by Willy Marler in 2012.

He didn't end up hitting that mark, but the sophomore still made some strides in the pool this winter.

"I was excited at the start of the season," Hanson said. "I was feeling great physically and mentally. I wanted to set new personal records. Going into the State meet, I felt excited. During the meet, I was very nervous but still hyped."

Hanson qualified to swim the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle at the state meet.

Hanson finished the 50 free in a matter of 22.19 seconds to place fifth while in the 100, he finished with a time of 50.24 seconds, placing him 13th.

"At the end of the meet, I was headed to the locker room to change (but) my coach called me back and told me I had made All-State," Hanson said. "I was surprised and thrilled. To make All-State requires focus and determination."

2024 was Hanson's first year to be named to the All-State team but if he — and his teammates — keep swimming like they have, it won't be the last.

"I hope to improve in all of the strokes — butterfly in particular," Finn said. "Improving the times in my other races is just as important as improving my current ones."