They've been swimming for most of their lives, but this weekend they made their debuts.
Several longtime age-group swimmers - including freshmen Kyle O'Brien, Amanda Jones and Kacey Klein - competed in their first high school meets this weekend as they helped lead the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears to a sweep of the boys and girls titles in the Ketchikan Invitational swim meets Friday and Saturday at Ketchikan's Mike Smithers Pool.
O'Brien won the boys 200-yard individual medley on Friday and swam on a pair of victorious Crimson Bear relay teams each day. Jones won the girls 100-yard butterfly and swam on a winning relay team in Saturday's meet.
On Friday, the Juneau girls scored 101 points to beat runner-up Ketchikan (80) by 21. Petersburg took third place with 65 points, followed by Sitka (45) and Craig (2). The Crimson Bear girls won Saturday's meet with 107 points while Ketchikan had 76. Petersburg again took third place (62), followed by Sitka (35) and Craig (4).
The Juneau boys recorded 107 points on Friday, with Ketchikan again taking second with 85. Sitka took third place with 73, followed by Craig with 14 and Petersburg with seven. On Saturday, the Crimson Bear boys scored 105 points to Ketchikan's 80, with Sitka third (78), Craig fourth (10) and Petersburg fifth (9).
"I thought across the board the kids did quite well," Juneau coach John Wray said. "I'm real happy. We're basically on course for where we want to be at the end of the season."
While new to high school swimming, O'Brien and Jones are two of a number of JDHS freshmen who have been swiming for several years with Juneau's Glacier Swim Club in the Alaska Swimming age-group meets.
"This was a lot of fun, it was a lot shorter meet," said O'Brien, who said he's been swimming since he was 8 years old. "I think I could have swum better, but I had a lot of fun."
"This was a lot more fun," added Kacey Klein, another freshman who's been swimming since she was 7 years old. "There was more competition and the team actually did pretty well. I thought I did OK. I felt my times were good for the first meet, but I'm hoping I improve."
The new high school swimmers appreciated the shorter meets, which typically last about three hours each day. Some age-group meets last for several days, with dozens of heats in each division for a few of the more popular events. Also, each day is a separate meet so it's easier to get over a bad performance.
"The high school meets are a lot shorter, so you can get your events and get done," O'Brien said. "This was a lot of fun. I like swimming with the team. I do like these more. This was a great meet to start out with. Everybody swam well and we had a lot of fun."
"I'm excited for my next one, there's a lot different atmosphere here," said Klein, who took fifth place in the 200-yard individual medley and fourth in the 100 backstroke on Friday and was fourth in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 back on Saturday. "I like being able to see if I can drop my time from the first day to the second."
The Crimson Bears are off this weekend, then Juneau will host its only home meet of the season - the Juneau Invitational on Sept. 19-20. Wray said the Southeast teams are still feeling each other out.
"In some events we'll be ahead of the competition and we'll have to keep pushing ourselves," Wray said. "But the other teams have some new people come in who are pretty strong. It'll be a different sort of season."
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