Bachelder family making mark with Decorah girls' swimming

Girls' swimming notebook: First-year Decorah Coach Allie Bachelder enjoying continued opportunity to mentor standout freshman daughter Emma; Also: Dubuque Wahlert lone MVC unbeaten; IGHSAU regional sites to be announced week of Oct. 3

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DECORAH – When the coaching position for the Decorah girls’ swimming team opened, there was a palpable buzz inside the Bachelder home.

Decorah freshman Emma Bachelder was already eagerly anticipating her first season of high school swimming, but her excitement was only compounded at the thought of competing for the perfect coaching candidate in her mind – her mother, Allie.

“When that position came open, I was like, ‘Mom, you’ve got to grab that! We could keep this going!,’” Emma Bachelder said. “She applied and she ended up getting it and we were super-excited to have her on the team.”

The ‘going’ has been awfully good thus far for the Bachelders. Allie Bachelder – a former swimmer at both the high school and collegiate level (UNI) – has provided her daughter with one-on-one instruction since Emma was 10 years old.

Since she does not belong to a swimming club, Emma Bachelder competed unattached at club meets with just her mother at her side. At last summer’s Iowa Swimming Long Course Championships, Emma earned a sparkling fourth-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle in the 13-14 age group.

Now through a month of high school competition, Emma has posted team-best times in four of eight individual events, including a 100-yard breaststroke time of 1:10.37 that elevated her into the state’s top 20 times. Her 50 freestyle time is ranked 22nd (25.32).

“She has really pulled the team up because she knows how to race and she’s been swimming all year round,” Allie said. “It’s encouraging for her, as well as the team, because they are seeing a different level of swimming and she strives for that.”

Their success as a pair does not suggest Allie Bachelder was a stranger to the returning members of the Decorah high school team. She has led the Decorah Parks and Recreation summer swim program for the past seven years.

“I’ve gotten to know some of the girls that way and we just have an incredible bond,” Allie said. “The position opened up and I jumped on it because I like to coach Emma and I like to coach that age of girls. Our team has just a bunch of really great girls on it right now.”

With no previous club nor high school team experience to lean on, Emma has made a quick adjustment as a contributor to relay foursomes. Along with returning state qualifiers Madelyn Jermier, Amelia Folkedahl and Katie Hagensick, Emma anchored a season-best time of 3:53.77 in the 400 freestyle relay at Saturday’s Cedar Rapids Kennedy Invitational, a third-place performance that trailed only state powers Johnston and Pleasant Valley.

“I love swimming on the relays,” Emma said. “Just swimming with that group of girls really motivates me and I love anchoring because I know that I can bring it home and show my relay what they did definitely paid off ... I definitely embrace that kind of environment and I love when it is close because I thrive off of competition and I love it when I can pull a time like that.”

Decorah – ranked 19th in the latest Quik Stats Iowa team power rankings – will be one of eight teams competing in the Cedar Falls Invitational on Saturday.


Cedar Falls has won 23 of the last 24 Mississippi Valley Conference titles, but it appears an additional threat is surging through the schedule.

With standout sophomores Elly Kalb and Abbie Montag, plus freshmen Victoria Michel, Alaina Schmidt and Karlie Welbes, Dubuque Wahlert is 5-0 in MVC duals and ranked 12th in the state. The Golden Eagles already own victories over No. 11 Kennedy and 14th-ranked Washington and will tussle with No. 16 Iowa City West Thursday at Coralville Recreation Center.


Next week, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will announce the six sites for the regional swimming and diving meets, which will begin Oct. 27 with diving and conclude with the swimming portion Oct. 29.

The regional meets determine which swimmers and divers qualify for the state championships Nov. 5 in Marshalltown.

Linn-Mar Aquatic Center in Marion has hosted a regional in each of the past two seasons.

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