These are the dog days of the high school swimming season.
It's the middle of the season, when the swimmers are still feeling the effects of their long hours of training. It's also too soon to start their end-of-season taper, so it's not the funnest time of the season.
The Juneau-Douglas High School swim team will get a needed break from the seemingly endless workout schedule this weekend as the Crimson Bears head to Sitka's Blatchley Pool for a pair of meets tonight and Saturday afternoon. These are Juneau's first meets in two weeks, so the competition against all the other Region V teams will provide some much-needed relief for the swimmers.
"This is the middle of the season. It's tear-down time," Juneau assistant coach Marc Bucat said. "This is the tough part of the year. It's when you hurt the worst, and it's hard to gauge how everyone else in the state is doing."
Both Juneau teams are undefeated in Southeast this year, and the Crimson Bears would like to stay that way. The season doesn't end until the state meet Nov. 10-11 in Anchorage, but already Juneau's swimmers are feeling better about how they're doing this year compared to last season.
"We probably are ahead of last year. We got in the water sooner this time," said Juneau sophomore Weather Potdevin, referring to last year's delayed maintenance at the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool that kept the Crimson Bears out of the water the first couple of weeks of the season. "We're working hard. We're pretty much trying to see where we are."
"I think the team, as a whole, has gotten faster since last year," Juneau junior Lizzy Eliason said.
As the Crimson Bears head to Sitka, they're not looking for blazing times. At this point in the season, the Bears are trying to refine their strokes and increase their levels of conditioning. But it's also getting close enough to the end of the season where the swimmers and coaches do start to compare times from around the state.
"We just want to practice what we've been working on with our coaches when we've been practicing," said Potdevin, who won three individual events two weekends ago when Juneau was in Ketchikan for two meets. "We want to get our skills down. Sitka and Petersburg are definitely tough teams. But we plan to go out and swim our best. We're not focussing on it (the state meet) yet, but as of now everyone in the state has had a chance to rotate through all of the events."
"I think we've got to watch them (Sitka and Petersburg), but I think we can beat them," Eliason said. "This is the meet where it starts showing where people are starting to show what events they're going to do."