MERRILL - By the time girls swim season begins, cool fall weather often makes outdoor pools too cold for the sport. At an early season meet in Lincoln County Thursday, athletes got the rare chance to swim under the sky.
Merrill hosted a mix of eight other division one and division two schools including Black River Falls, Rhinelander, Marshfield, Wausau West, Stevens Point, DC Everest, Rice Lake and Tomahawk.
Blue Jays coach Kristie Winter says the outdoor meet gave her girls an opportunity to try something different with athletes they don't often compete against.
"We have this great facility and our club team hosts a meet our here in the summer, and we said 'hey if they can do why can't we,'" said Winter. "The girls like to be out here, so its fun."
This season, Merrill's seniors hope to defend their Division 2 sectional title from last year.
The teams new leaders say swimming outdoors competitively is actually a lot harder than it looks.
"The sky … it blinds you," said Merrill swimmer Trinity Kanitz.
"You have to wear tinted goggle so that they're more like sunglasses," said Merrill swimmer Aliyah Pillai.
"It's also a lot harder to regulate the water temperature, so the water's like 5 to 10 degrees hotter than it is inside," said Merrill swimmer Ananda VanWie.
VanWie said warm water makes swimming even more tiring but the meet was still great practice for the rest of the season.