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Published September 04, 2012, 11:39 PM

Coaches’ babies make a splash at swim practice

FARGO – While the Fargo North Girls’ Swim and Dive Team go through their warm-up routines, a couple of tiny tots lie on blankets, kicking their arms and legs, their eyes fixed on the swimmers.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

FARGO – While the Fargo North Girls’ Swim and Dive Team go through their warm-up routines, a couple of tiny tots lie on blankets, kicking their arms and legs, their eyes fixed on the swimmers.

Both Head Coach Talia Butery (who also coaches the Gators swim team for the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties), and Assistant Coach Krystle Leidholm, had babies within a few weeks of each other this year, and they occasionally bring their 3-month-olds to practice, much to the delight of the teen swimmers.

The babies, Merritt Butery and Landyn Leidholm, seem just as enthralled with the swimmers as the girls are with the infants.

“It’s great to see them interact and how excited they were to see Landyn,” said Leidholm, who’s in her fourth year coaching. “He really enjoys it. He’s a very happy baby, so he’s smiling all the time.”

In fact, Merritt’s favorite blanket is a quilt with last season’s T-shirts one of the swimmer’s moms made for Butery last year for being named Coach of the Year, said Butery, who is in her 10th year as a coach.

The students like to see what the babies are wearing each day and ask about the babies if they’re not at practice, Butery said. The babies also provide a welcome distraction during difficult sets, she said.

“If they’re having a hard set, it’s fun for them to look up and see the babies smiling at them,” she said.

There are 46 swimmers and divers and two student managers on the team, which includes grades seven through 12.

“I love it,” said Carley LeDioux, a senior swimmer and co-captain, of having the babies at practice. “They’re so cute.”

“It’s really exciting to have someone new around the pool,” said Abby Astrup, a senior swimmer and co-captain.

The coaches told the girls they were pregnant through a hangman game, Astrup said. Though some of them had already guessed as much, LeDioux added.

Butery, who started swimming when she was in fourth grade, said she’s a firm coach, but the team has a lot of fun with things like ugly swimming suit pageants, contests and prizes like fun socks.

“I don’t know if you could get away with that with a boys’ team, but with the girls’ team, they love it,” she said. “It’s a long season and they work really, really, really hard.”

Butery and Leidholm said they expect being a coach will make them more prepared parents, especially when their kids hit their teen years.

Butery said she also thinks being a parent will help make her a more understanding coach.

“It’ll change my perspective on things and how I deal with parents especially, and probably just recognizing what kids need on a daily basis and translating that to my athletes,” she said. “I think it will only help make me a better coach.”

But just because the kiddos have had an early introduction to swimming doesn’t mean either coach expects them to take up the sport one day.

“I’m going to take him to the pools in the summer, and if that’s something that interests him, that would be great, but we’ll see,” Leidholm said.

“Part of me hopes she does just because it’s something that’s a huge part of my life and I have a great love for it,” Butery said. “But it might be easier for her if her mom wasn’t the coach.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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