Divers, swimmers head to state meet

Homer Mariner swimmers and divers made a good showing at regional competition in Kenai this past weekend. So good, in fact, that athletes from each team are headed to state competition in Juneau this week.

The five Mariners divers headed to Southeast are seniors Kaec Brinster, Brian Rowe and Katherine Dolma; junior Jasmine Lewis; and sophomore Ian Hall.

Brinster and Rowe came in fifth and third at regions. Hall came in fourth. Lewis led the women with a first place score and Dolma was not far behind. 

“It makes you feel pretty good,” said Harmon Hall, head coach for the Mariner dive team. “You take five kids to regions and all five go to state. I’ve taken eight to regions with six going to state, but never taken them all. This is outstanding.”

Hall pointed to a dive camp that begins the season as part of the reason for this year’s success at regions.

“It’s the discipline they get right off the bat,” said Hall of lessons taught by the “professional professionals” he brings in to work with the team during camp and for the remainder of the season. “They communicate all the time with us. These kids can call them 24-7. They send messages while we’re on our way to meets, at meets, all the time.”

The dive camp’s reputation has spread and it’s value is evident by others who have attended.

“Nine kids are going to state that were at the camp,” said Hall. In addition to the five Homer athletes, there also are three from Kenai and one from Kodiak.

As this weekend’s state meet wraps up the season, it also sees the end of high school diving for the team’s seniors.  

“Right now, my returning team looks like six or seven kids already,” said Hall. “All of them were in dive camp except one. They will all be coming back, poised, ready to step up and a fill the vacancies.”

Between now and then, divers stay in shape through other activities.

“I had one already swing over to hockey. One of the girls is doing basketball. Two are in the Nutcracker. As long as they’re working on their body core, that’s the main thing,” said Hall.

Region swim results have seniors Mark and James Nagle, junior Cheyanne Smith and sophomore Gregory Smith headed to this weekend’s state meet in Juneau. 

“It was really exciting,” Head Coach Rebecca Hardy said of the region competition. “There were lots of personal bests. It was a really fantastic meet. Everyone dropped a tremendous amount of time. Even from one day to the next.”

Mark Nagle placed second and third, respectively in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 yard freestyle. He also placed third in the 400-free relay with his brothers, James and Remi, and Gregory Smith. Mark Nagle will compete in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 yard freestyle at state. 

“I’m really proud of the swimmers who made it to state,” he said. 

James Nagle placed third in the 100 yard butterfly at regions and will compete in that event at state. He said he is looking forward to racing old friends in Juneau. 

Gregory Smith edged out James Nagle in the 100 yard backstroke at regions. A two-second lead ahead of his teammate gave Smith fourth-place finish.

“It wasn’t the greatest but I’m happy with it … I’m wanting to get below a minute on 100 back,” said Gregory Smith. “I’m really proud of my team and grateful to the coaches for believing in me and getting me to state.” 

Swimmers not going to state stay in shape and continue working on their times during the off-season by helping out and swimming with the Kachemak Swim Club Dolphins. 

“We had a rough season as a team, but we pulled it together and we really showed our team spirit,” said Cheyanne Smith, the first state alternate in the 100-yard breaststroke. A concussion kept Smith out of the action for some of the season.

“(Regions) weren’t want I had hoped it would be, but I’m really happy to be where I am. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the coach, but especially my teammates,” she said.

Katir Britton is a freelance writer living in Homer. McKibben Jackinsky also contributed to this story.