ANCHORAGE -- Juneau's Glacier Swim Club battled through a bout of illness to take second place in the team standings in the 2000 Speedo/Alaska Swimming Junior Olympic Championship this weekend at the Bartlett High School Swim Pool.
Northern Lights Swim Club of Anchorage, which brought 71 swimmers to the meet, easily claimed the team title with 3,073 points for the three-day meet Friday through Sunday. Glacier Swim Club, which had 32 swimmers including several fighting the flu, took second place with 1,568 points. Aurora Swim Club of Anchorage, with 39 swimmers, took third place with 1,515 points, followed by North Pole Aquatic Club with 1,340 and Kachemak Swim Club of Homer with 1,134.
``I was real happy, especially for our Region XII kids who went through their second taper in three weeks,'' said Glacier coach Gary Crowe, referring to the Region XII (Pacific Northwest) championships in Federal Way, Wash., March 16-19 which saw Glacier's Paul Hughes and Forrest Preston both claim event titles. ``The kids did a good job. The last time we took second place in the state JO meet was 1985. We took seventh last year. It was a real team effort.''
Five other teams from Southeast also sent swimmers to the state JO meet, with the Ketchikan Killer Whales taking eighth place with 785 points to edge out Sitka's Baranof Barracudas Swim Club in ninth place with 772. The Craig Waverunners Swim Club took 11th place with 521 points, Viking Swim Club of Petersburg was 16th with 299 points and the Haines Dolphins Swim Team took 20th place with 133 points. The meet brought in 28 teams with 464 swimmers.
The younger swimmers led the Southeast teams, which means the local teams could improve on their standings as the current crop of youngsters moves up through the age groups and new swimmers move into the youngest age groups. In several of the age 10-younger events, Southeast swimmers claimed 15 of the top 20 positions.
Kyle O'Brien of Glacier Swim Club was the top individual points scorer in the boys 10-younger age group, while Glacier's Jenna Rutecki was the second-ranked individual points scorer in the girls 10-younger division.
O'Brien opened the meet on Friday with victories in the 50-yard backstroke and the 200 freestyle, and over the course of the weekend he added victories in the 100 back and the 100 free to go with several other top finishes. Rutecki didn't post any individual victories, but she was consistently among the top finishers and was on two winning relay teams. Helen Riemer, another age 10-younger from Glacier Swim Club, won the 100 breaststroke.
``This is my first state JO's and this is the best I've done in any meet,'' O'Brien said on Friday. ``I'm looking forward to tomorrow. My best events are still to come. I feel like I've got to work harder now to do the best I can do.''
O'Brien normally finishes second to teammate Mike Fishel in most meets, but Fishel broke his arm skateboarding during spring break and didn't swim this weekend.
``It was a tough blow, losing Mike, but Kyle came in and swam really well in spite of it,'' Crowe said.
Rutecki joined with Reimer, Nellie Metcalfe and Kristin Jones to win the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay. In Friday's 200medley relay race, The Juneau team barely edged out the Ketchikan team of Jordan Thrasher, Abigail Ahyong, Kelsey Lough and Monique Atkinson to claim the title, with Glacier eventually winning by 0.19 seconds after a scoreboard error at first made it appear like Ketchikan won the race. Craig took fourth place in the race.
``I thought we won,'' Rutecki said after she and the other members of her relay team gave Crowe a victory hug. ``I saw we touched first.''
Paul Hughes, who won the 100 breaststroke title at the Region XII meet in the boys age 13-14 division, was one of at least five sick Glacier Swim Club members this weekend. Still, Hughes focused on a couple of key events and came out with a victory in the 200 breast on Saturday and the 100 breast on Sunday, plus he was on Glacier's winning 200 medley relay team with Tyler Hennon, Kirk Fishel and Olin Robus.
``Paul's sick, so we held him out of some events today,'' Crowe said Friday. ``He'll swim in the relay, and maybe the 200 breast tomorrow.''
Besides Hughes, other Glacier Swim Club athletes under the weather included Reid Harris, Martha Kaiser, Jake Kreuzenstein and Hannah Robus, the bulk of GSC's high school-aged swimmers. But while ill, they still produced this weekend.
Robus won the age 15-18 division 200 breast and made the finals (top eight) in several other events. Kreuzenstein, Kaiser and Harris also made the finals in several events.
``We've been working hard the last 10 weeks for this,'' Kreuzenstein said. ``Our pool will be closed down (for repairs) when we get back, and we could use a week or two off.''
Forrest Preston, who won the age 15-16 division title in the 1,650 free at the Region XII meet, took second place in the 1,650 this weekend, but this time the age group was 15-18 and he had to beat some older swimmers. Even though he didn't win an event this weekend, Preston had several second-place finishes, he said the Region XII experience will help him grow as a swimmer.
``I was surprised because since Region XII I haven't really been in and out of the water,'' Preston said. ``My 200 fly (butterfly) time was the same, but this time I went out really fast and I was really slow in the second half of the race. My endurance was so much worse.
``But it was awesome,'' Preston said of the Region XII victory. ``Before I left, I didn't think I'd make finals. I dropped 32 seconds in my 1,650 time. I got to see a lot of competition around the region, not just from this state.''
While there were several Juneau swimmers to win events, there were even more who were happy just to reach the finals, place well and improve their times. For example, in the girls age 13-14 division 1,000 free, Juneau swimmers Lisse Focht, Heather Harris and Natalie Hale took third, fourth and seventh places, respectively.
``I'm looking forward to tomorrow,'' Hale said. ``It will all be better than today, in my 100 back, 200 free and 100 fly. I was kind of sick today.''
The Baranof Barracudas had victories from Alex Dailey in the boys age 10-younger 100 individual medley, the 100 butterfly, the 100 breast, the 200 IM, and the 50 fly, while Travis Watson won the boys age 15-18 400 IM and Benjamin Campen won the age 10-younger 50 breast. The boys age 10-younger relay team of Gavin McGowan, Campen, Dailey and Jamie Gorman won the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay.
Ketchikan had victories from Ben Voetberg in the boys age 13-14 division 200 IM and the 200 free. Haines picked up victories from Anna Szymanski in the girls age 10-younger 50 free and the 100 back. Petersburg was led by Maren ``Rikka'' Brunner in the girls age 13-14 division, who won the 200 breast. Craig didn't have any event winners, but had several swimmers eanr medals for topthree finishes.