She's proud of how the young Pirates have stepped up.

As the Pirate girls’ swimming team prepares to host Fosston-Bagley in a dual Thursday evening at the Crookston Community Pool, beginning at 5:30 p.m., a pattern in how the girls are finishing in various meets has clearly developed. With only eight swimmers, winning team-level events isn’t really a realistic possibility, so Coach Marley Melbye simply focuses on getting each girl to swim her very best, post their best times, and place as high as they can.

This past Saturday at the Fosston-Bagley Invite, Crookston came in third out of four teams. The host squad took first with 337 points, followed by Perham-New York Mills with 316, the Pirates with 138 points, and Staples-Motley with 105.

As far as patterns go, sophomore Madison Hoiland continues to roll in her two top events, the 50-yard/meter freestyle and the 100-yard/meter breaststroke. She won both events again Saturday at the Fosston Pool. Freshman Mackenzie Aamoth continued her strong performances in the 100-yard/meter butterfly, securing the Pirates’ lone second-place finish in Fosston. Sophomore Claire Oman and freshman Fallon Johnson continued their solid showings, too, in both individual and relay events.

Asked about the Pirates’ patterns, Melbye offered her thoughts.

“Madison has always been successful in her races, getting first or second. but Mackenzie, Claire and Fallon have really accepted the challenge of stepping up for their team,” she explained. “These girls last year and before have been typically fourth or sixth place finishers. They have really dedicated themselves to taking on more pressure and having a higher role on this team. These girls really do face all of their races and every meet with a great amount of determination and pride to represent their team.”

With the season on the home stretch, Melbye is trying especially hard to push the girls to reach their peak in the water. But they are a young squad, so she knows there are going to be ebbs and flows.

“As swimmers we typically are working for max performances because we are working towards fine-tuning our race-pace strokes,” she explained. “It is normal to have a mid-season plateau where your times are stagnant; these girls are fighting through that and haven’t seen that as of yet. They are still producing races with steady time cuts.”

Even though the team is young, they’ve been swimming for the Pirates since junior high, it’s been gratifying for Melbye to see them grow as swimmers and be willing to try different things. “Our team looks completely different than previous years and the girls are really stepping up to fill new and different roles, one of that being the leadership roles,” she said. “This group of girls is used to having someone older driving them, pushing them, and now they are learning how to drive and push themselves and you are seeing that in their times.

“Being in an individual sport you really need to be able to motivate yourself and push yourself to your maximum, and that is the hardest thing to learn, and they are doing that,” Melbye added.

So are Hoiland’s times good enough to be a postseason threat? Her coach said with the end of the season comes a level of unpredictability.

“With Madison’s times, you never know what can happen come the end of the season,” Melbye noted. “Madison is a competitor and loves racing, and when push comes to shove she can rise to many challenges.”