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Hundreds turn out for Independence Invite

Anne Christensen and her daughter Claire, 3, of Fargo watch the FM Gators swim club’s annual Independence Invite on Wednesday at Island Park. David Samson / The Forum

Fargo - The summer calendar flipped to July on Tuesday, but the cool, cloudy weather didn’t match the time of year very


A trip to the Island Park swimming pool probably wasn’t on the minds of many local swimmers early this week, but what a difference a day can make.

Sunshine returned Wednesday night and just in time for the FM Gators swimming team’s annual Independence Invite.

More than 200 swimmers and hundreds of spectators packed Island Park for the event.

“This meet is just a lot of fun,” FM Gators head coach Talia Butery said. “It gets our swimmers outside so they can take in a little fresh air and take advantage of the nice weather.”

The meet was sanctioned by North Dakota Swimming, Inc. and USA Swimming, Inc. It featured 11 teams from four different states.

Sixty members of the FM Gators team participated, including 12-year-old Alonna Narum, who will be a seventh-grader at Discovery Middle School this fall.

“It is more fun and different from the winter season,” said Narum, who competed in the 50-yard freestyle, 200 individual medley and 50 backstroke. “I like being outside on the longer course this time of year.”

The summer club swimming season is known as the long-course season, and Butery said it gives swimmers another chance to qualify for several national events during the year.

The Island Park pool is 50 meters long – double the size most swimmers compete in during the school year.

“It is a nice change of pace,” Butery said. “The kids are still looking to reach the same qualifying times, and it is still really competitive.”

The fact that the meet was in Fargo suited 12-year-old Peyton Fisher just fine. Island Park has been his home pool since he joined the Gators at the age of 6.

Fisher will be entering seventh grade at Ben Franklin Middle School this fall and said the summer outdoor meets are more challenging in that competitors must perform in-water starts with no starting platforms.

“This meet helps you stay in shape for the school season,” said Fisher, who participated in the 200 and 100 freestyle along with the 200 breaststroke.

Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high school sports reporter. He's worked at The Forum for five years. He was the 2013 North Dakota sportswriter of the year, an award that is sponsored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to  

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