The Mitchell Aquatic Club and Huron Parks and Recreations Wobbegongs have a new look this season, joining forces to create the Dakota Riptide.
Former Huron coach Bonnie Biel retired at the end of the season, opening the door for the teams to combine into a 107-swimmer squad. There are 67 swimmers from Mitchell and 40 from Huron.
“That got the ball rolling,” Dakota Riptide coach Clyde Smith said about Biel’s retirement. “Because we’d always joked about combining the teams and it kind of fell into place.”
The timing was right, but so was the makeup of each team. Mitchell has more girls and is a little older compared to Huron’s younger team comprised of more boys. It has Smith believing the Riptide will be a powerhouse in the near future.
For that to happen, both teams need to bond outside of the pool, too. Despite forming into one team and following Smith’s race-pace training, Mitchell and Huron still practice separately. Smith goes up to Huron once every two weeks, but assistant head coach Mandy Hofer leads the Huron swimmers the rest of the time.
“We’re making progress and figuring it out,” Smith said. “We are very unified in what we do as a team in the water in practices. They know their teammates, but they don’t know their teammates. It’s one of the conundrums of being in two cities.”
To combat the unfamiliarity, the Riptide are busing their 11-and-over swimmers to the Snowglobe Classic on Dec. 13-15 in Des Moines, Iowa. Still, as Smith and Hofer tread unfamiliar waters, the Riptide showcased the potential Smith raves about last weekend in Pierre.
“We went to Pierre last weekend and we dropped a crazy amount of time. We dropped 496 seconds (as a team),” Smith said. “Usually, we’re probably around 100-120 seconds from everyone.”
The first home meet since the merger is the newly-named Mitchell Invite on Nov. 15-17 at the Mitchell Recreation Center. The meet starts at 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 9:15 a.m. on the final two days.
Smith said there’s no plans to eliminate any of Mitchell’s summer invites, while it will also add the Splash Central Invite in Huron to its schedule. Huron doesn’t have a facility to host indoor swim meets, though.
“We have kids coming up and they have kids coming up, so we should be a powerhouse at some point,” Smith said. “It’s just depending on how long. We’re a good mix of both, but I think we’ll do very well on the state level as far as competition.”