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Aug. 23—TRAVERSE CITY — Jason Moore felt like he was coaching two different teams at this point last year.

Because of Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions, the Traverse City Tritons swim team could only have limited numbers of swimmers in the pool at once. So Moore divided the Tritons into an “A” and “B” team, where one team would practice for an hour and then the other team would practice for an hour after the first group of swimmers left.

Most swim meets didn’t allow parents, Moore said. Not only did that make it quiet, but some swimmers didn’t have their parents there for what would have been their final swim meets before college.

“We all followed the guidelines because we wanted to swim really bad,” Tritons senior Ella Province said. “We did whatever was necessary so then we could get in the water and have a great season — even with COVID.”

Moore hopes routines look a bit more normal this year for the Tritons — a co-op with TC Central, TC West and TC St. Francis.

“It will be nice to get back to where we have parents and spectators here so they can be loud and rowdy and help encourage the kids,” Moore said.

The Tritons qualified two TC Central swimmers to the state meet in 2020 and look to continue having swimmers in the hunt for hardware downstate. Junior Avery Bills returns after a qualifying in the 100 backstroke.

Those finals — which were scheduled to happen the weekend of Nov. 20-21 — were postponed twice because of COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan. They were eventually held almost two months later on Jan. 16.

“The prior year (2019) we won our conference meet and sent some kids down to states,” Moore said. “Last year we just fell short a little bit, so we’re hoping to get back on top again, winning conference and hopefully getting a few more kids to qualify for states.”

Bills will look to make it two trips in a row this fall. She holds several records with the Grand Traverse Bay Breakers.

“State was really an eye-opener for what competition will be like next year now that I won’t be kind of an underdog,” Bills said. “I definitely need to be a role model, dedicated to the swimmers, and let them know that swimming is something that you work for.”

Year-round swimmer Erin Hagerty returns after missing the high school season in 2020. Also in the hunt for good seasons are Province and junior Camryn Crosby.

Province captains the St. Francis team, senior Erin Schworm captains West’s swimmers, and senior Mally Ulatowski captains Central’s swimmers.

“I’m really excited for this year because I’m looking forward to be being one of three captains this year and leading our team to hopefully get a conference championship,” Province said. “We lost last year and we’re hoping to regain our title and win this year.”

The Tritons swimming season starts with a conference relay meet Aug. 21. Traverse City races with teams from Ludington, Manistee, Fremont and Cadillac.

Traverse City hosts Ludington Sept. 16 before hosting the Up North invite Oct. 16.

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR