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Swim team benefits children of every level

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News from Mission Valley Aquatics and Fitness 

POLSON – In 2001, a young couple with three children moved to Polson from another state, planning on raising their children in this beautiful town by Flathead Lake. Everything they wanted for their family was there with the exception of an indoor swimming facility.  

All three of their children were swimmers, and the two older ones had competed on swim teams for several years, beginning at age 6. Knowing that there was an indoor facility in Bigfork, the couple thought that they would be able to travel there several times a week so that the children could be on a swim team, which worked for one summer and winter. After that first winter, they realized that traveling that route was not very practical, so their children played football and basketball and baseball.  Fortunately, they were good at those activities and didn’t really miss swimming until they left Polson to go to college and rediscovered the sport. 

Polson now has a state-of-the-art indoor swimming facility with a swim team. People now have an alternative team sport to consider for their children. Swimming is an activity that can be enjoyed all your life, and the swim team at Mission Valley Aquatics and Fitness is available to children ages 5 to 19.  

Currently, the team has 37 members, ranging in age from 6 to 16. 

The criteria to join the team are the ability to swim 25 yards freestyle and do a 25-yard backstroke. Once on the team, members are coached in those two swim strokes, as well as breaststroke, butterfly, diving, flip turns and open turns. Team members are coached by Shayna Swanson, a coach with 14 years of experience. Shayna joined a swim team at age 10 and continued to compete throughout high school, earning a spot on a division one swim team at the University of Wyoming. After college, she coached at the college level and for an independent swim team before moving to Polson and becoming the head coach in January of 2018. 

Unlike some other sports, swimming is a year-round activity. The short course season, when swimmers compete in a 25-yard long pool, runs from September to March. The long course season, competing in a 50-meter pool, runs from March to July. This equates to 16 meets a year, and some members compete in all, while some may just do one each season. While some team members are very serious competitors, competing all year, others, especially the younger ones, just do one season. Practice is run every day, five days a week, but is not mandatory unless planning on competing in a meet. Practice is geared towards ability and age, and the beauty of having all ages on the team is that the older swimmers mentor the younger ones. 

On the swim team, the members develop a physical exercise that they will be able to sustain for the rest of their lives, as well as form relationships with other children of varying ages. Swimming and swim team helps build confidence and is a sport that everyone is able to participate in. 

For more information on the Flathead Lake Monsters swim team, contact Mission Valley Aquatics and Fitness at 406-883-4567 or go to the website at

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