Mariners swim to first at Valdez competition

Homer High’s swim team scored several record times and brought home a first-place trophy after competing in two meets held in Valdez last Friday and Saturday. Despite the 12-hour bus ride, a couple of injured players, a few colds and even a case of strep throat the Mariners persevered through the competitions against Valdez and Cordova with Homer boys placing first overall.

“Against all odds it went really well,” said Head Coach Rebecca Hardy. “There were lots of best times. The team showed much athleticism and applied their training to their races.”

Hardy said a highlight of the two meets was the close 500-meter freestyle race swam during the second meet by sophomore Greg Smith and senior Mark Nagle. Nagle took first place by less than a second. 

“It was well swam by both, and it was especially exciting for Greg,” said Hardy. 

“He had a consistent swim and was able to bring to the table what he has been working on,” she said.

Smith said he dropped 19 seconds off his 500-meter freestyle time from last year.

Nagle won the award of overall fastest boy.

“The meet was really fun. I was really hoping for the award and I got it,” said Nagle. “During the last meet I kept adding up my points to see if I could beat my twin brother, James.”

The Nagle twins were tied before competing in the same heat of the 50-meter freestyle. According to Mark it was “winner takes all.” He managed to beat his older twin by .06 of a second.

Homer girls took second place overall.

“We had two girls injured so only four girls swam but they were fiercely competitive.” said Hardy.

Senior Lukia Martishev dropped time in all events. Lauren Kuhns finished first during Friday’s 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke, also shaving time off her personal records.

“(Kuhns) is a trooper.” said Hardy. “She puts it all out there, gives it everything she’s got plus more during practice, and now she is reaping the benefits.”

Hardy applauded Leo Castellani, Thomas Vanek, Zach Nelson, Cyrus Cowan, Remi Nagle and Hyram Dory for their times in the 200 meter freestyle.

“I was shocked at their results.” she said.

Freshman Charlie Sadler also was highlighted, and Hardy referred to his 26-second time for his 50-meter freestyle as “a big deal.”

“It was fun to be up in Valdez with everyone and all the support. The team is really like a second family,” said Sadler, adding with a smile, “I was trying to get a 26 so I can finally beat the Nagles.”

Mariner swimmers will compete in Seward Saturday. Homer divers had their second consecutive weekend off, and Head Coach Harmon Hall said the team is “ready to go” for the meet in Kenai on Friday.

Shannon Reid is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.