August 16th was the Jays' first day of official practice but members of the Jamestown High School girls swimming and diving team had been logging unofficial laps all summer.

"It's going to be like their season never really stopped -- they are ready to go," Jamestown High School head swimming and diving coach Ben Smith said. "We have a ton of girls returning who were placers at State and a lot of girls who didn't compete but who could be state placers (this year)."

Smith and the Jays ended the 2020 season at the state swimming and diving meet in Bismarck where the Jays placed 13th out of 17 competing teams. The Jays are slated to host travel to Grand Forks Central for their season opener. The meet is set for Friday beginning at 5 p.m. The Blue Jays home-opener is slated to come against Bismarck High on Sept. 2.

"I don't really know where other teams stand as far as who's all coming back because last year was so different," Smith said. "Some teams didn't have all their athletes come back because of COVID and some teams didn't do sports.

"We graduated a good group of seniors but every year produces a different team," Smith said. "We're excited to work with all of the girls that we have."

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Smith said many of the Jays swimmers put in a lot of work over the summer months, training with the school's strength and conditioning program while also participating in summer swim camps.

Chea Baugh, a returning junior and a five-year varsity team member, was the only Blue Jay to be named to the 2020 WDA All-Conference team. Baugh swam to state qualifying times in all of the individual events save diving and the 100-yard breaststroke The 2:21.39 she swam in last year's state 200 IM final was good enough to crack the top 15 individual finishes.

Baugh also placed high in the 100 butterfly where she finished the 15th fastest swimmer in the state. Senior returner Haley Nelson was also a top finisher for the Jays diving team at State where she turned in a score of 358.15. Nelson placed 10th.

Smith said aside from individual placers like Baugh and Nelson, he also predicts that the Jays will be strong in the relay events. The Jays finished in the top four teams in all of their relay sessions last season, something Smith said will likely happen again.

The Jays will also have the opportunity to travel to compete at some of the East Region schools this season. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, last season the Blue Jays were unable to host or compete at any EDC schools.

"We're super excited about that, it's going to be great," Smith said. "We love traveling to Fargo, it's just as far as Bismarck and we get to see more of a range of competition."

It's not just the East Region schools the Jays will get to see more of this season.

The Blue Jays had to divvy up practices last year due to COVID-19 protocols. This season the Jays will be practicing all together in the Jays birdbath.

"That's something that we missed last year was practicing together and so this year we are really going to utilize that and make sure that all of our team feels cohesive and together," Smith said.