South high girls swim to the top at the Maroon & Gold Invitational state competition


Photo Credit: Soline Van de Moortele South high swimmers competed at the “Maroon & Gold Invitational” state tournament on the TMT team, featuring swimmers from Washburn, South and Roosevelt. The competition starts off with 13 teams competing on the Maroon division and 13 teams competing on the Bronze division, and 9 selected teams swim for the Gold division.

Soline Van de Moortele, News Editor

Loud cheering and the smell of chlorine filled the aquatics center at the University of Minnesota as high school women’s swim teams from across Minnesota compete at one of the biggest meets of the season, a meet that has been done annually since its founding in 1993.

South is part of a joint-school team featuring swimmers from South, Washburn and Roosevelt named TMT. Sitting on a bench, the TMT swimmers all were laughing and huddling under towels.

All the competing swim teams started warming up at noon, and the swimming began at 1 PM.

Ellen Demgen, a senior who is one of the six swim captains on the team, talked about the team’s position so far in the competition: “I’m seeing a lot of good times going right now, it’s still pretty early in the season and we’re all still at mid training,” Demgen commented.  She went on to explain that the team has been under a lot of stress and pressure these past weeks, and the swimmers are “swimming while tired.”

The team won their first dual meet – a competition where two teams swim against two opposing teams – a few weeks back.

Isabel Gilbertson, a Washburn eleventh grader who is a part of TMT, concurs with Demgen: “I think we’ll be doing good [at this meet], a lot of our girls are really tired today, it’s been a long few weeks.”

TMT scored 4th place in the bronze division with 233 points, with Blake, Blaine and Farington ahead of them. TMT scored first place in the 200 year relay medley and the 200 yard freestyle relay.

South senior swimmers Holly Anderson and Ellen Degmen scored 9th & 10th place out of 25 in the 500 yard freestyle with times of 6:02.15 seconds and 6:03.22 seconds.

Chris Aarseth, the meet manager, explained the competition structure. “We have thirteen teams in the bronze division, and we have 13 teams in the maroon division. At the conclusion of these two meets, we have nine teams competing in the gold division”.

Darla Dennis – an eleventh grader at South – has been on varsity TMT since eighth grade. “I swam since I was really young, so it was natural for me to go into swimming as a highschooler.”

“I really like this team, I have a lot of good friends, we have a lot of fun but we also have a lot of pain,” Dennis explained, laughing.

Demgen agrees. “I like [the team] a lot. It’s a really new group of girls. We have 9 or 10 upperclassmen on varsity, most of it is freshmen and sophomores.”  She added, chuckling: “I really like that because I feel like they have a lot more energy than we do”.

Referees lined the pools, watching the swimmers intently to assure there are no illegal moves. “If nothing else, [referees are here] to make sure everybody is swimming fairly, that no one is gaining an unfair advantage” said Michael Bougie, one of the refs at the meet.

Swimming violations include early takeoffs, stroke violations, or if they used a butterfly kick during a breaststroke.

With college coming up, the


The Maroon & Gold Invitational state competition has been occurring yearly since it's founding in 1993, two years after the opening of the U of M aquatics center.
Photo Credit: Soline Van de Moortele The Maroon & Gold Invitational state competition has been occurring yearly since it’s founding in 1993, two years after the opening of the U of M aquatics center.

girls explained their thoughts on swimming after high school: Demgen has been talking to the St. Kate’s swim coach – an all women’s college in St. Paul, Minnesota – about swimming on their team. “I am probably going to go to St. Kate’s and swim for them next year,” she explained.


Dennis, on the other hand, wants to stick to clubs and small teams rather than join the college’s main teams. “I’ll probably just be at a club or just do it for exercise,” she said.  

Through leadership, scores and community, the South swimmers have made their marks on the TMT team and the state swimming community.

The TMT team will take part of the 2016 State Tournaments at the U of M aquatic center, November 16th-18th.