While the Glacier Swim Club veterans performed like the seasoned athletes they are, the younger set provided a glimpse into the future of Juneau swimming at the Alaska State Junior Olympic Championships in Anchorage.
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Glacier Swim Club, a youth swimming team that practices out of the Augustus Brown Pool, captured third place overall at the April 23 event. The event serves as a unique culmination to the swimming season where athletes in ages ranging from 8 to 17 compete for a state title.
The meet is divided into four different boys and girls age divisions, but each are scored equally.
"This one is probably the truest state championship for all the ages," GSC coach Scott Griffith said. "It's the most well rounded."
As a team, Glacier Swim Club finished third overall behind Anchorage's Alaska Pacific Swim Club and Northern Lights Swim Club.
GSC finished first in the boys division and third in the girls. The meet proved even more impressive because of the distance and cost involved in flying to Anchorage. Glacier has one of the smaller squads at the championships.
Due to bringing a smaller team, GSC wasn't able to compete in as many relays as other squads.
Leading the way for the Glacier Swim Club boys is standout Kyle O'Brien.
O'Brien obliterated the competition in Anchorage, winning all seven of his events and amassing a competition-high of 140 points. The 16-year-old Juneau-Douglas High School student captured the 1,000-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley.
"He had some amazing races," Griffith said of O'Brien. "He almost broke the state record in the 100 back and was close in the 200 IM."
Also for the GSC 15-and-over boys, Matt "Zippy" Josephson finished fifth overall with 101 points and Jon Wendel took 12th with 72.
In the 13-14 year old boys category, GSC's Cody Brunette tied Alaska Pacific's Wyatt Adams for first place overall with 134 points. Brunette won the 200 IM, 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 400 IM and 100 breaststroke in Anchorage.
Teammates Seth Cayce (eighth place), Nick Rutecki (15th) and Alex Barto (20th) rounded out a solid effort by Glacier Swim Club.
Tyler Mickelson and Nathan Messing finished eighth and ninth, respectively, for GSC in the 11-12 year old boys overall competition while Cody Schick finished 24th.
In the youngest boys division, Jimmie Busch finished tied for third while Julian Minne took eighth, Calvin Walsh placed ninth and Jonah Swanson took 13th for GSC's 10-and-unders.
The 10-and-under boys also won the 200 medley relay.
In the girls division, a trio of athletes from the defending state champion Juneau-Douglas swim team helped set the pace for GSC.
Kristin Jones, Sara Bogert and Amanda Jones finished third, fourth and fifth in the 15-and-over division.
Julia DiCostanzo took 22nd while Katie Busch finished 33rd.
While the five swimmers represented their club exceptionally well, they also provided support for the Glacier Swim Club's younger swimmers.
"They're role models," Griffith said of the senior girls. "They're leading the cheers and making sure the girls are ready, focused and not stressed. The girls look up to them in terms of how to prepare and supporting their teammates. That's what's nice about the sport, you give so much and you get a chance to give back."
Auri Clark, 11, took ninth place in the 11-12 year old age group. Elsa Robinson claimed 22nd, and Zoey Brice Bigelow placed 29th.
In the 10-and-under age group, Ciera Kelly placed fifth overall while Joley Hodgson and Haley Mertz took 13th and 14th place, respectively.
In addition to accolades for the swimmers, GSC coach Scott Griffith was named the state's Senior Coach of the Year and Age Group Coach of the Year at the event.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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