Ryan Boeding got off to a strong start in the 200 freestyle, but he could feel Pleasant Valley’s Jack Williams gaining ground in the final stretch of the race.

“I saw him out of the corner of my eye,” Muscatine’s Boeding said. “I knew he was catching up the last 50 (yards).”

The Muskie swimmer knew he had to finish strong, and he did just that, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:54.55, less than one second ahead of Williams.

“The training has been working,” Boeding said. “It wasn’t my fastest (race), but I just felt really strong.”

That would be the only first-place finish by any Muscatine swimmer in Thursday’s home Mississippi Athletic Conference dual against traditional power Pleasant Valley. The Spartans topped the Muskies, 122-47, but Muscatine coach Judd Anderson was pleased with the way his team competed at Carver Pool.

In addition to Boeding’s first-place finish, Muscatine placed second in three events and third in five events.

“They were kind, PV was,” Anderson said. “They moved some kids around to make the races a little more competitive. But we were competitive. We were very pleased with the whole meet.”

However, with a weekend invitational at Clinton on the horizon, Anderson also opted to slot some of his swimmers into different events. That included Boeding, who normally spends more time in the 50 and 100 freestyles.

“It’s tough to swim back-to-back and do the same race twice,” Anderson said. “I think we had a lot of kids who got better and improved their times from before.”

Wade Whiteside swam in four events and managed a top three finish in each one. He was the first swimmer on a third-place 400 freestyle relay team and the second swimmer on a second place 200 freestyle relay. He was joined by Boeding in both events.

Daylon Shelangoski and Carson Orr made up the other two swimmers in the 400 while Will Zillig and Ethan Heth rounded out the 200 for the Muskies.

Whiteside also placed third in the 200 medley and second in the 500 freestyle while continuing to show improvement across the board from a season ago.

“I can’t quote his times from this point last season, but this year he’s significantly better,” Anderson said. “We’re pleased with that.”

Other top three finishes include a third-place finish by Alex Thurston in the 500 freestyle, a second-place by Shelangoski in the 50 freestyle, a third-place by Heth in the 100 breaststroke and a third-place finish by the 200 medley relay team.

With six meets behind them and six meets remaining in the regular season for the Muscatine swimming team, Anderson says he will sit down after the Clinton Invitational, put together a best time sheet and compare this year’s times to where the Muskies were at this point a season ago.

There have been plenty of positive signs in the early portion of the season, though, which Anderson called “a pretty competitive first three or four weeks.”

Certainly, a competitive meet against Pleasant Valley was another step in the right direction for a Muscatine team that has battled the flu bug throughout the early portion of the season. Still, Anderson sees little things that need to be cleaned up down the stretch.

“I still think we have a lot of potential to focus a little more on some of the details of swimming,” Anderson said. “Things like starts and turns. Sometimes I don’t think we pay close enough attention to that.”

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