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Chris Murphy, Published September 24 2013

Dutt's presence benefits Arends, others

West Fargo - West Fargo swimmer Danica Dutt has a simple answer when someone is gaining on her in the pool: Go crazy.

“In my head I want to win, so if I see someone close to me, I just go crazy,” Dutt said Tuesday before West Fargo’s dual meet with Moorhead. “I just hate losing so much.”

Going crazy has been working for Dutt. The senior has won three state championships in the 100 butterfly. She also won a state title in the 200 freestyle relay last season, along with Hallie Peterson, Brianna Faul and Julissa Johnson.

“She’s a hard worker, and she swims year-round, which adds to the reasons why she’s so fast and so dedicated to the sport,” West Fargo coach Sally Sautner said. “She’s a great leader on the pool deck and being an influence on the younger swimmers.”

And she’s an influence to any young swimmer, regardless of the team.

Moorhead sophomore Kenya Arends is a bit ahead of her schedule. Last season, Arends was Moorhead’s first individual state qualifier since 2007, finishing 24th at state in the 200 freestyle. She joined Abbie Gerdes and Sophia and Ellyn Frohberg to become the first Spuds relay team to qualify for state in over a decade, finishing sixth in the 200 freestyle relay. The relay team set school records in the 200 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, and Arends broke the school record in the 200 freestyle.

She wasn’t expecting any of it.

“My goal was to make it to state this year, get top 16 next year and win my senior year, so I’m one step ahead,” Arends said. “I’m kind of scared thinking I might have peaked too early.”

Arends doesn’t mince words when evaluating herself, claiming she was the worst swimmer on the team in the seventh grade before Gerdes came along and gave her an example to follow. This summer, it was Dutt setting the example.

“I swam with Danica in the offseason,” Arends said. “My main goal is to get a D-I scholarship and following Danica’s example this whole summer and hearing her talk about getting swimming (scholarship offers) to Arizona makes me so happy.”

One thing Arends will need to get used to, which requires Dutt to occasionally go crazy, is how to swim with no one in front of her.

“(Arends) is probably one of the most talented female athletes I’ve worked with at Moorhead,” said Moorhead coach Pat Anderson, who is in his 17th year coaching the Spuds. “It could be her name all over the record board by the time she’s done if she keeps working as hard as she is. She’s struggling a little bit this year because she’s always been a chaser, so she’s finding herself at a new position being a leader and having to set her own bar and not rely on chasing people. We’ll get through that.”

Arends doesn’t need to look beyond Dutt for an example. With college offers to sort through and a decision to make on where to take her career that began when she was 6 years old and couldn’t find a sport she was good at, Dutt shows no signs of slowing down.

“I want to win the 100 butterfly and all my events and then, as a team, I want to win state,” Dutt said. “This is my ending stepping stone to swimming in the future.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548