Greenway's lone swimmer has no problems taking on entire squads
Greenway swimmer Dajana Vidovic doesn't have any teammates, yet the senior is far from lonely. Greenway High School in Coleraine doesn't have a varsity girls swimming team, so Vidovic makes a six-mile drive to practice with Grand Rapids, her surr...
Greenway swimmer Dajana Vidovic doesn't have any teammates, yet the senior is far from lonely.
Greenway High School in Coleraine doesn't have a varsity girls swimming team, so Vidovic makes a six-mile drive to practice with Grand Rapids, her surrogate team. The 17-year-old competes in an exhibition division with Grand Rapids during the regular season, and then represents Greenway in the postseason.
"She is with us all the time, but she is loyal for Greenway," Grand Rapids coach Jerry Casey said.
Vidovic and the Grand Rapids team compete separately in meets, but they cheer for each other and hang out together during other team activities.
"It feels good to stay and represent Greenway," Vidovic said. "I could have transferred, but I would have had to sit out. We talked about it, but I have friends at Greenway and my mom [Ann] graduated from there. This gives me the opportunity to stay close with my Grand Rapids friends."
At the 2006 Minnesota Class A swimming and diving meet, Vidovic scored 18 points, which was more than Grand Rapids (8) and 15 other teams. Vidovic was the top Northland finisher in any event with her fifth-place showing in the 100-yard freestyle in 54.42 seconds. She also finished 13th in the 50 freestyle in 25.42.
"I was laughing and joking with [Grand Rapids]," Vidovic said. "I said, 'Ha. Look at that, I beat your team at state.'"
She can joke because she has established a long relationship with the Grand Rapids swimmers.
"We have been swimming together forever," said Vidovic, who started swimming with her future Grand Rapids competition during kindergarten at the Itasca Community YMCA. "It's great to have other good swimmers [Mary Jo Behr and Dana Christmas] as daily competition."
Christmas and Behr, who were 2006 state entrants on the Thunderhawks' 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams, push Vidovic in practice.
"[She] is really motivated, works hard and never wants to lose," said Christmas, a senior, who began varsity practices with Vidovic as a freshman.
However, Vidovic didn't always display diligence. As a freshman, she said she coasted through practices because the sport came natural to her. But at the 2004 Section 7A meet, Vidovic's pleasure cruise ended with a fifth-place finish in the 50 freestyle.
"It really sunk in that I need to work hard on this or not do it at all," she said. "I then kicked it in gear."
As a sophomore, Vidovic tied the section record in the 50 freestyle with Hibbing's Jessica Nordstrom in 25.17. She also finished second in the 100.
In her junior year, she won the 50 and 100 freestyles at the section meet.
"She has put in the time, become physically and emotionally stronger and works harder," Casey said. "She is the first one in the pool, and usually the last one out."
Casey knows Vidovic is serious because of her goal setting.
'She is one of the few swimmers that set goals," Casey said. "When someone sets goals, you know they are intense."
Vidovic's No. 1 goal is a state title.
"I try to do everything right with that in mind," said Vidovic, who won a synchronized swimming state title in 2005. "I swim hard, lift weights and eat right. I get this fire in me to do it now."
Casey said achieving a state championship can be extremely difficult, but he saw it done in 2002 when Grand Rapids' Mike Block won the 50 freestyle.
"It's possible because [Block] wasn't even a top seed, but he won state," said Casey, who also coaches the Grand Rapids boys swimming team. "It was his day, and Dajana [Vidovic] has the same type of chance."
ANDY GREDER covers high school swimming for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5315 or by e-mail at email@example.com .