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Things are moving right along for the defending state champion Juneau-Douglas boys' swim team, as the Crimson Bears have yet to lose a meet this year that they were able to attend.
"The boys are winning their meets consistently, and the girls are right behind Ketchikan consistently, and that's without having a lot of girls going to the meets because they're sick," JDHS coach Kathrin Millhorn said. "They're doing that with maybe six to eight girls, including our divers. But they look good and they're right where they need to be. I'm pleased with the way they've been swimming."
About the only thing slowing down both the Thunder Mountain and JDHS programs, which practice together at Augustus Brown Pool, has been a recent flu outbreak, resulting in a smaller number of swimmers able to attend all meets.
"Kids have been improving their times, but we've been hit with the bug as of late and we've had a lot of kids out sick," TMHS coach Jason Wilson said. "Its hurt us a little bit, but the kids are here putting in the work, and it's showing up in their times."
At last weekend's meet in Ketchikan, the JDHS plane had to fly over the city because of bad weather, leaving the Falcons as the only Juneau representatives for the first time. The girls' team was able to score 21 points to take a fourth-place position after the first day of the two-day event.
"They stood out, they stepped up and I think morale was good," Wilson said. "Team spirit was awesome. I said at the start of the season that these guys were going to have the opportunity to bond and be close, and it really showed at that meet."
On Day 2, the JDHS girls' 200-yard medley relay team finished first (2:01.75), with the Falcons' girls coming in third (2:13.86).
"The times are coming, and the relays are doing really well; better than we even thought they would be," Falcons freshman Kymberly Turner said. "We wanted to have a relay go to state, and we could do it if we push ourselves hard enough."
The Falcons even used two divers on the relay team.
"In order to have relays for the girls in Ketchikan, we had our divers swim part of the relaybecause we didn't have enough swimmers," Wilson said. "We had Shannon Luckenbihl and Zeeba Sanchez swim a relay leg, and that helped us to have a couple relays at the swim meets."
Saturday, the teams will compete in Anchorage, which will be a good test of where they stand.
"The two schools working together seems to be working out pretty well as far as practicing together," JDHS dive coach Hans Marx said. "We're getting ready to go up to Anchorage tomorrow, and we have three Juneau-Douglas divers and one Thunder Mountain diver.
"It will be quite a bit of competition with pretty much all of the Anchorage schools," he continued. "Here in just the last week or so, some of these guys have really made a lot of improvements, so that's exciting. We're looking forward to a good meet, and we'll be trying a lot of new dives. Hopefully, they'll be nailing them all."
For the JDHS girls, senior Lindsay Clark, a freestyle specialist, said they are rounding into mid-season form.
"Our season is going pretty well. Personally, I've been getting better at sprints and our team is getting stronger," she said. "We're at the peak right now in terms of how hard we're working. We're building up endurance, and everyone's really been working hard. I think we're doing well, and I know I've gotten a couple of my best times this year. A lot of my teammates and our relays have been getting better and quicker."
JDHS junior Evan Norman, a breaststroke and butterfly specialist, said the Bears boys are right on target.
"In the pool, we're still working on our strokes a little bit, but it's moving along and we've made a lot of progress from the beginning of the year. They've been good," he said of the times being put up. "I've been doing great, and most of our team is right around our best times from last year. Hopefully, we can match that at state and regionals."
Millhorn said after looking at times being posted around the state, she's confident the boys have a tremendous shot to repeat.
"Oh yeah. Definitely," she said. "As long as we're all well at the end of the month, I think we'll be good to go. They're going to do really well when they go to state."