Winning the first meet of the season isn't a bad way to get things started, and the Juneau-Douglas swim team will be the first to tell you that, though they feel they have a long way to go to reach their potential.
The Crimson Bears girls' and boys' teams both returned from Craig this weekend after taking first place in their openers, and assistant coach Scott Jones said it was an ideal start.
"For the first meet, the kids swam very well," he said. "The girls do have their work cut out for them because Ketchikan has a strong team, and the boys have some good competition as well.
"We're all happy with the results and hopefully they can continue this."
Jones said the meet, which featured all of the teams from Southeast, was a good way to gauge future competition.
"Really, it's the first meet of the season and we were just watching the kids get into their swims, taking notes and bringing them back to practice," he said. "But overall, we had some really good times."
Juneau-Douglas senior Tyler Mickelson said the team is encouraged by the early-season returns so far, and if they keep the momentum going, the Bears will be difficult to stop.
"I think it went well and we were all pretty close to our best times. For it being the beginning of the season, we did pretty good," he said. "We're gradually getting our technique back and getting back in shape."
Though the team is happy with first place, Mickelson acknowledged there's still work to do.
"We definitely have to step it up a notch," he said. "But if we continue to practice like this and stay with it, I think we'll do pretty good this year."
Thunder Mountain swim coach Jason Wilson said he was impressed by not only his team's performance, but they way they've come together as a group. He also said while he's happy with the effort of his swimmers, there's still a lot of learning to do.
"The kids really did great. We had a lot of swims that were close to their best times, and a few that were their best times. That's a good place to start," he said. "So we're semi on the right track, but I think there are some things we need to work on, (like) sticking to our fundamentals."
This year for the first time, the Falcons have their own practice time in the pool - separate from Juneau-Douglas - and Wilson said he thinks it's a huge benefit to his swimmers.
"It's been really healthy for the kids," he said. "It was important to them to have their own identity as a club, and they're doing great at adjusting."
Wilson said he really couldn't single out one of his student-athletes as being a standout among teammates. Instead, he focused on the fact that most of his squad had bettered their times from the previous season.
One of those people is first-year swimmer Corwin Kelly, who said it was nice to be back in the water after taking a break last year.
"We got to see how we're doing after the summer," he said. "It was good to be back against other competition. I dropped some time and it was a good way to start the season."
Sophomore Erin Krogstad said as a fairly new program, swimming against bigger schools is a good learning experience.
"It was difficult because we're a small team, but we're getting up there, doing well and we've got good coaches and hard practices," she said. "Some of us kept the same time we had last year, but our freshman had great new times."
Individual times and scoring from the meet were not available.
Both teams are off this weekend before hitting the road Sept. 10-11 at Ketchikan.
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