Heading into Tuesday night's dual meet against Bettendorf, the Muscatine girls swim team was coming off a successful showing at its home invite last Saturday.
But from a competition standpoint, Bettendorf presented a bit of a different challenge for the Muskies. The Bulldogs ended up winning the meet 133-52.
It didn't help matters that the Muskies has had a number of girls dealing with illness or minor injuries recently.
With swimming, though, the ultimate competition is the clock.
"It's a learning experience for all of us," Muskie swimmer Ellie Storr said. "We really just focus on our times and not necessarily what place we got."
As far as the meet against Bettendorf, however, several Muskies had good showings in terms of their times, but that might get distorted just by looking at the final results.
Muscatine had one first-place finisher at the meet Tuesday night. That went to Abby Lear, who won the 100-meter freestyle race with a time of 55:65, narrowly beating Bettendorf's Zoey Ahrens, who finished in 57:04 in one of the most competitive events of the night.
The Muskies had a host of second-place finishers.
"We tried to shuffle things around a little bit," Muscatine head coach Judd Anderson said. "We tried to experiment a little bit, maybe once in a while we discover something we didn't know."
Storr put together a nice meet, for example.
She placed second in the 500 freestyle, fourth in the 200 freestyle and was a part of a Muskie 400 freestyle relay that took second, with Lear, Hope Reichert and Alli Youngbauer.
In last Saturday's home invitational meet, that same group finished with a time of 4:07.26 in the 400 relay, taking second to Tipton. This time around, the team shaved a little time off, finishing in 4:06.92.
"We had a little more depth at the end (on Saturday)," said Anderson. "Bettendorf had some kids that we thought were in a good spot to race, and we were right on their heels."
The 500 freestyle was noteworthy because Storr and Bettendorf's Same Roemer were the only swimmers to finish under the six-minute mark. Storr's time was 5:58.85. But that was still well behind Roemer, who blew away the field in that event with a time of 5:23.36.
"I think we're definitely progressing as a team," Storr said. "Our times are dropping because of how hard we're working in practice."
For now, though, the Muskies get a little bit of a breather after competing in three different meets over the last eight days.
"We found some things we can discuss tomorrow (in practice)," Anderson said.