The length of a fingernail.
That's all that separated Chad Walter of Juneau's Glacier Swim Club and Travis Watson of Sitka's Baranof Barracudas Swim Club Sunday afternoon in the finals of the age 15-18 boys division 100-yard butterfly event in the Mike Smithers Southeast Alaska Regional Championships at the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool.
``It was really close,'' said Walter, a Juneau-Douglas High School junior who posted a time of 55.36 seconds to edge Watson's second-place time of 55.40. ``It's not my best time, but I've only been training for two weeks. He's been training in the 100 fly, so I liked that. I'm going to win state next year.''
``I guess I was actually ahead, but his arms are so long he got me at the end,'' said Watson, a Sitka senior who is about four inches shorter than Walter. ``I won everything else, so I wasn't too disappointed.''
Walter's victory prevented Watson from sweeping all seven individual events he entered in the three-day meet, the maximum number of individual events each swimmer was allowed to enter (plus three relays).
Earlier on Sunday, Watson set a meet record in the 100 breaststroke, posting a time of 1:00.42 to break the mark of 1:02.21 set in 1986 by Ketchikan's Carl Jaynes. But that wasn't Watson's personal record.
Watson, the only Southeast swimmer to qualify for this year's Junior National Championships, swam a 59.30 in the state high school championships in November.
While Watson nearly posted a perfect individual score, it was Walter's Glacier Swim Club that was breaking the team scoring record. Glacier Swim Club scored 1,263 points to win the three-day meet for the third straight year, breaking the record of 1,223.5 points it set in winning the 1991 title. The Ketchikan Killer Whales took second place with 633 points, edging out Sitka's 614 points. Petersburg's Viking Swim Club took fourth place with 451 points, followed by the Craig Waverunners Swim Club with 305, the Haines Dolphins Swim Team with 93 and the Stikine Searunners of Wrangell with 29 points.
Walter and Watson weren't the only swimmers to have a race decided by the length of a fingernail. In the age 13-14 boys 100 breaststroke, Juneau's Paul Hughes and Sitka's Kieran Jacobson-Ross both swam faster than Watson's 1997 record time of 1:06.68. Hughes won in a time of 1:06.47, just edging out Jacobson-Ross' time of 1:06.52. But Hughes said he wasn't going for the record.
The only other swimmers to set records Sunday were Sitka's Alexandra Broschat in the age 8-younger girls 25 butterfly and by Ketchikan's Grant Wadley in the age 8-younger boys 50 freestyle.
The length of a fingernail was the margin of how much Jake Kreuzenstein missed setting a record in the age 13-14 boys 1,650 free. Kreuzenstein, a freshman at Juneau-Douglas High School, posted a time of 18:16.64 to miss the 1996 record of 18:16.16 set by Ketchikan's Sean Seaver.
Kreuzenstein's teammate, Forrest Preston who competed in the age 15-18 division but was in the next lane, tried to pace Kreuzenstein to the record, but Kreuzenstein just missed the record even though he did drop 21 seconds from his personal record.
The top individual point scorers in their age groups were Ketchikan's Laura Miller in the age 8-younger girls division, Ketchikan's Grant Wadley in the age 8-younger boys, Ketchikan's Karin Voetberg in the age 9-10 girls, Juneau's Mike Fishel in the age 9-10 boys, Juneau's Kelsey Potdevin in the age 11-12 girls, Craig's Andy Otos in the age 11-12 boys, a tie between Petersburg's Rikka Brunner and Juneau's Weather Potdevin in the age 13-14 girls, Kreuzenstein in the age 13-14 boys, Sitka's Alexis Will in the age 15-18 girls and Watson in the age 15-18 boys division. Wadley and Will both posted perfect scores of 49 points, while Otos was his team's first swimmer to win an individual points title.
Juneau swimmers claiming victories Sunday included Kelsey Potdevin in the age 11-12 girls 50 free and the 100 butterfly, Kreuzenstein in the age 13-14 boys 50 free, 200 free and 1,650 free, Martha Kaiser in the age 15-18 girls 50 free, Hughes in the age 13-14 boys 100 breast, Hannah Robus in the age 15-18 girls 100 breast, Julia DiCostanzo in the age 10-younger girls 100 free, Mike Fishel in the age 10-younger boys 100 free, Weather Potdevin in the age 13-14 girls 200 free, 1,650 free and 100 butterfly, Kirk Fishel in the age 13-14 boys 100 fly, Walter in the age 15-18 boys 100 fly, and Preston in the age 15-18 boys 1,650 free.
Juneau also claimed titles in the 200 free relay in four divisions. Weather Potdevin, Heather Harris, Jenny Trucano and Robyn Grayson won in the age 13-14 girls division; Kreuzenstein, Kirk Fishel, Olin Robus and Hughes won in the age 13-14 boys division; Kaiser, Hannah Robus, Annie Fox and Christina DiCostanzo won in the age 15-18 girls division; and Jamie Belardi, Walter, Reid Harris and Preston won in the age 15-18 boys division.