Grace Hanson, Hutchinson. ANTHONY SOUFFLE, Star Tribune
Minnetonka’s girls’ swimming program is one of the best in the state and resides in the most prestigious conference, the Lake.
That doesn’t mean the Skippers don’t experience rough waters.
Six months ago, John Bradley was hired as Minnetonka’s aquatics director and became the school’s third coach in the past three seasons. He replaced Craig Charlson, who left in December to pursue other opportunities.
If it’s up to Bradley, coaching turnover ends with him.
“I hope to make this a long stop,” Bradley said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a program with such a rich tradition of excellence.”
The Skippers were looking to return to prominence last season. They had not won the team championship since 1975 and 1976, the only state titles in program history. Then the Minnesota State High School League canceled the 2020 state meet and all other fall sports state tournaments because of COVID-19.
“I would like to see us get back to some consistency and normalcy,” Bradley said. “Sometimes things happen beyond your control.”
Minnetonka was the runner-up to conference rival Edina in 2019. Teams from the Lake have won the previous 10 Class 2A crowns — seven by Edina and three by Wayzata.
“What has struck me the most about the Lake Conference is the quality of coaches,” Bradley said. “It’s very competitive and a lot of fun, too.”
Bradley has nearly three decades of experience as a coach and program director at the high school and club levels. He also serves as sports development director for Minnesota Swimming Inc. and as masters swimming coach for the Rochester Swim Club.
Bradley’s wealth of knowledge has already shown. His team opened the season with a 102-76 victory over another conference foe, Eden Prairie, on Thursday.
Minnetonka went undefeated in dual meets last season, winning the conference crown for the first time since 2012. It defeated Edina in a dual meet for the first time since 2013.
“The kids have a phenomenal work ethic,” Bradley said. “There is a lot of synergy in the program. The Minnetonka parents have been amazing to work with. They have been an invaluable guide into how things run and what items have been successful in the past.”
Minnetonka, Edina, Wayzata and Eden Prairie are the favorites to win the Class 2A title in 2021. Visitation and Hutchinson highlight the Class 1A field.
“It is aspirational,” Bradley said. “Minnetonka is a special place.”
Maya Burkstrand, Richfield/Holy Angels, senior. College: undecided.
Addie Diaz, Minnetonka, senior. College: undecided.
Hailey Farrell, Hutchinson, senior. College: Kansas.
Grace Hanson, Hutchinson, senior. College: Missouri.
Emma Kern, Delano, junior. College: undecided.
Caroline Larsen, Eden Prairie, sophomore. College: undecided.
Katie McCarthy, Edina, junior. College: undecided.
Grace Rabb, Andover, freshman. College: undecided.
Claire Reinke, Wayzata, junior. College: undecided.
Allison Schrank, Blaine, senior. College: Ohio.