The Kachemak Swim Club has spent the last two weeks gutting out races in pools from Southeast Alaska to the state of Oregon to right here at home.
Friday and Saturday, March 2-3 saw 60 Kings swiftly swimming at their End Of The Road (EOTR) home meet and dominating the competition from Kenai, Soldotna and Anchorage. Both novice and seasoned swimmers from Homer, all age 14 and under, enjoyed multiple event wins and personal records (PRs).
Homer’s swimmers won 57 of the 119 events, including nine of the 12 relays. Gunnar Pinsky swept victories in all four of his 10 and under boys events, achieving three best times in the process. Teammate Johannes Bynagle also swam three PRs, earning two second places, a third place and a fourth place. Cassidy Carroll and Daisy Walker, both 10 raced seven individual events and two relays each, with each achieving best times in five of their seven solo swims and racking in the ribbons.
Other standouts from this weekend’s EOTR contest at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center were: Anabelle Franciscone, Brianna Miller, Elsa Milne, Carly Nelson and Lucas Story. Just two weeks after competing under optimum conditions and with high adrenaline at the Alaska Age Groups state-wide championship meet in Juneau, these five Kings returned to their home pool with something still to prove, each swimming seven individual events and earning PRs in five.
Not to be outdone, Hazel Pearson and Jody Goodrich, also fresh off the fierce competition in Juneau, dug deep to earn PRs in every one of their events, Jody in four and Hazel in seven. Other Homer swimmers who qualified and competed impressively against the 300 fastest swimmers under 15 at Age Group Champs in Juneau were: Adeline Berry, Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, McKenna Carlin, Bristol Johnson, Hartley Miller, Kira Milne, Luke Nelson, Luke Nollar, Sara Nollar, Nathan Overson, Skylar Rodriguez and Madison Story. Story qualified for finals in all seven of her events, winning two of them and earning second place overall for the third year in a row, each year only having been bested by Anchorage’s phenom and multiple state record-holder, Dreamer Kowatch.
Meanwhile, on this same past weekend at the Tualitin Hills Aquatic Complex in suburban Portland, Oregon, KSC’s fastest swimmers, ages 14-17, went head to head with 600 of the best in the Northwest at the Region XII Senior Championships. Clayton Arndt, Berry, Blanton-Yourkowski, Milne, Jake Nelson and Story raced Friday, Saturday and Sunday, competing in individual events and in single-gender and mixed-gender relays. The meet was an opportunity to see serious national competition, to improve upon recent success, and to build towards another record-breaking HHS Mariner season this coming fall.
Arndt reached the finals in two of his events in Oregon and achieved a milestone in the 100 yard freestyle, breaking the 50 second barrier at 49.81. Nelson took 10 seconds off his best in the brutal 200 butterfly to qualify for finals, then achieved another PR that same evening to place 14th overall in the event. Story advanced in five of her six events, her best finish being eighth place overall in the 100 breaststroke. More notable, perhaps, was her 11th place in the 50 Free “Shootout,” finishing in 24.88 seconds and becoming the first female swimmer ever from Homer to break 25 seconds.
The KSC Kings next compete in the South Central Area Championships April 6-7 in Homer. For more information, check out www.kachemakswim.or.
Paul Story is the swim meet director for the Kachemak Swim Club and for Homer High School.