JOHNSTON — The first road trip for the Ottumwa High School girls swimming team brought with it a very tough test. The Bulldogs faced off with Johnston, a team with high hopes of competing for a state team title in 2019.

The Dragons won the dual at Summit Middle School, 152 1/2 -21 1/2, dropping Ottumwa’s dual record to 2-1 on the year. The Bulldogs did have a pair of top-three swims from sophomore Leah Chelgren, including leading off the 200 medley relay. Chelgren, Mac Payne, Saige Knight and Libby Moses produced the best time yet in the race as the OHS team placed third in 2:04.9.

“The great thing about it is that it gives us the chance to be pushed and to help us work on improving our times. It certainly worked with the medley relay,” Ottumwa head girls swimming coach Cherie Langland said. “We really focused on our relays knowing we were going to go up some really fast teams. It gave us a good look at the level of competition we’re going to see going forward. That was beneficial for us.

“It’s always a great opportunity for the girls to see this level of swimming. One girl told me how much harder she wants to work after seeing the swimmers of Johnston. The dual definitely served its purpose.”

Ottumwa (2-1) dives back into the pool at home next Tuesday against CIML Metro conference rival Des Moines Roosevelt. During the dual, former OHS head swimming coach Mike McWilliams will be honored as the competition pool inside The Beach will be named in his honor.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com.

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