O'Brien wins top swimmer honors

GSC athlete earns state male swimmer of the year award

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2004

Kyle O'Brien of Juneau's Glacier Swim Club needed an extra bag to pack all his awards home from the 2004 Speedo/Alaska Swimming Junior Olympics, held Friday through Sunday at Anchorage's Bartlett High School swimming pool.

O'Brien, a freshman at Juneau-Douglas High School, was named the Alaska Swimming male swimmer of the year in a vote by the state's coaches. O'Brien also won all seven of his individual events to claim the individual points title for the boys age 13-14 division; he has not lost an age-group event in Alaska all season.

"Kyle's performance at the sectional meet (in late March in Federal Way, Wash.) is what set him apart," Glacier Swim Club coach Andrew Billings said. "All the coaches got a ballot that listed the accomplishments for the nominees, and Kyle got the most votes based on his high placings at the sectional meet."

Anchorage's Sara Rockwell of Northern Lights Swim Club won the Alaska Swimming female athlete of the year award. Keith Pinto of the Kodiak Kingfishers won the Alaska Swimming age group coach of the year award, while Cliff Murray of Northern Lights Swim Club won Alaska Swimming senior coach of the year award.

Northern Lights Swim Club won the overall team title with 3,845 points, while Anchorage's Alaska Pacific Swim Club took second place with 3,409.5. Midnight Suns Swim Team of Fairbanks took third place overall with 1,787.5 points, holding off a late run from Glacier Swim Club in fourth place with 1,757. Anchorage's Aurora Swim Team took fifth with 1,568 points.

Billings said Glacier Swim Club had a good meet.

"Especially on the last day, we seemed to find some new energy," he said. "We closed the gap on Midnight Sun. We didn't catch them, but we closed the gap."

Sitka's Baranof Barracuda Swim Club took sixth place with 896 points to lead other Southeast teams at the meet. The Ketchikan Killer Whales were eighth overall with 844 points, Petersburg's Viking Swim Club took 10th place with 671, the Haines Dolphins Swim Team finished 13th with 506 points and the Craig Waverunner Swim Club finished 18th out of the 25 scoring teams with 144.

The Haines Dolphins won the award for the highest percentage of best times, while Northern Lights won the award for most points per swimmer.

O'Brien was the only Glacier Swim Club swimmer to win his age group individual title, but several others were in the top five for their divisions. Kristin Jones took second place in the girls age 13-14 division, Tyler Hennon was third in the boys age 15-18 division, Seth Cayce finished third in the boys age 11-12 division and Cody Schick tied for fourth in the boys age 10-younger division.

O'Brien claimed boys age 13-14 titles in the 200-yard individual medley, the 50 freestyle, the 500 free, the 100 free, the 100 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and the 200 free.

Hennon won the boys age 15-18 title in the 1,650 free, the 500 free and 200 back; Jones won the girls age 13-14 crown in the 500 free and the 200 free; Schick won the boys age 10-younger crown in the 200 free and the 100 breast; and Cayce won the boys age 11-12 title in the 200 breaststroke and the 400 IM.

"Seth Cayce was our most improved swimmer. He had an outstanding drop in the 200 breaststroke," Billings said. "He went from the 10th seed to first place in the 200 breast. He dropped 26 seconds. He had some major improvement in other events, too. He made the largest breakthrough."

Ketchikan's Laura Miller was the only other Southeast swimmer to win an individual points title, claiming the girls age 11-12 division while Sitka's Alexandra Broschat tied for second in the same division. Genny Szymanski of Haines took second place in the girls age 15-18 division, while Petersburg's Trevor Williams finished third in the boys age 13-14 division.

Miller won the girls age 11-12 title in the 200 IM, the 50 back, the 50 free, 100 free, the 100 breast and the 200 free.

Szymanski won girls age 13-14 crown in the 200 IM, the 200 back and the 400 IM, but her best swim came in a race where she finished second. Both Rockwell and Szymanski eclipsed Rockwell's state record time of 57.57 seconds in the girls age 15-18 100 backstroke, with Rockwell winning in 57.25 and Szymanski a close second in 57.27.

Among other Southeast winners, Williams won the boys age 13-14 title in the 200 back; Broschat won the girls age 11-12 title in the 200 breast, the 100 breast and the 200 back; Petersburg's Erin Streuli won the girls age 11-12 title in the 100 butterfly; and Ketchikan's Kirsta Bezenek won the girls age 11-12 title in the 50 fly.

Ketchikan's boys age 10-younger quartet of Ellis Miller, Ethan Howard, Case Kuikhoven and Dylan Christianson won the 200 medley relay.

Complete event-by-event results for the meet can be found on the Web at http://www.akswimming.org/juniorolympics/index.htm.

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