Bills preps for second-straight trip to D1 swim finals | Local Sports

TRAVERSE CITY – At this point last season, two Traverse City Tritons were diving into the pool at the West Grand Traverse Bay YMCA to train for the state finals.

Those swimmers – then sophomore Avery Bills and senior Claire Bongiorno – ended up doing so for two months, five days a week. The Tritons head coach Jason Moore would broadcast the two training sessions.

And even after that, Bills said that pool work doesn’t matter if she doesn’t do the same thing outside of the pool.

“Doing things outside of the pool is the best way to get better,” she said. “That means eating right, getting enough sleep, and drinking water. Basically, you take care of your body outside of training. “

It’s the year-round swimming lifestyle that has helped Bills hit qualifying times and book her second trip to the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final, which will be held Friday and Saturday at the Holland Aquatic Center. The Traverse City Central junior will compete in both the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke, having qualified in the 100-yard backstroke last season.

The 2020 swimming and diving finals, which were originally planned for November 20-21, did not take place until November 15-16. January after a COVID-19 testing program introduced by the state of Michigan made it possible.

Bongiorno now swims for the Michigan state club team. Moore says Bill’s also hoping to swim after high school.

“She makes this a priority in her life where she misses out on other activities with friends, social things, because she wants to work out in the pool to swim in college,” said Moore.

Bills was placed 12th in the 200 IM and 11th in the 100 in groups of 29 swimmers for the weekend’s races. The 2021 final will have a two-day format, with a preliminary round on Friday and the final on Saturday. The top 16 advance after three to four heats. There was no qualifying round in last year’s final due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Moore hopes to see Bills swim both days.

“You do your best in and out of the pool. It’s just about how you think about it, ”said Bills. “Of course you have to think positively. It is better to think that you are only going up against yourself and the other people are only there to push you. “

She joined a Triton team to claim the Coastal Conference title that fall, defeating rival Ludington in the two-day championship meeting in Manistee November 5-6.

Bills was far from the only year-round swimmer on this team. Moore said at least 10 swimmers had a week off between the summer club season with the Grand Traverse Bay Breakers and the fall high school season. That’s about half the team, he said. Only four Tritons were seniors this fall.

Hannah Lantz was just a freshman that fall, finishing third in the 200-yard freestyle and second in the 500-yard freestyle. She’s been swimming year round for two years now, Moore said.

“There are some swimmers who swim in high school, then they take nine months off. Or eight months off and they try to get ready in a month, ”said Moore.

Two weeks of solo training for two racing days later, you’ll find Bills, who represents the Tritons swim cap alongside top swimmers at their events from the Grand Rapids and Detroit regions, fighting for an all-state honor.

“I’m so excited,” said Bills.

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR

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