Things went so well for the Juneau-Douglas High School swim team at the Juneau Invitational this weekend that the Crimson Bear divers garnered wild cheers - for their performances in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Bolstered by a number of finishes that rank among the top 10 times in the state this year - along with a pair of fourth-place finishes by the swimming divers - the Juneau boys and girls squads swept the titles of their only home meets this season Friday and Saturday at the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool.
"Every kid swam great," coach John Wray said. "I can't think of anyone who did not have improved times."
On Friday, the Juneau boys won the meet with 185 points, ahead of Sitka (50), Ketchikan (41), Petersburg (31) and Craig (10). The Crimson Bear boys won Saturday's crown with 188 points, followed by Petersburg (53), Ketchikan (39), Sitka (35) and Craig (10).
The Juneau girls won Friday's title with 152 points. Petersburg finished in second place with 55 points, even though most of the Vikings didn't arrive until halfway through Friday's events due to a delayed ferry. Sitka was third with 44 points, followed by Ketchikan (39), Craig (14) and Haines (3). On Saturday, the Crimson Bear girls won with 141 points, trailed by Petersburg (62), Sitka (51), Ketchikan (37), Craig (18) and Haines (4).
Juneau built its commanding victories with a number of individual and relay performances that were outstanding by statewide standards.
The Juneau girls 400-yard freestyle relay team of Martha Kaiser, Weather Potdevin, Kelsey Potdevin and Heather Harris posted the fifth-fastest time in JDHS history in winning Friday's race in three minutes, 54.59 seconds. That time is the third-fastest in the state so far this season.
"We all just swam our best," said Kaiser, who also won Saturday's 50 freestyle. "We were really surprised to do that well."
Wray said Weather Potdevin had an excellent all-around weekend, setting several personal bests in her events. She won Friday's 500 freestyle in 5:29.25, and swam even faster on Saturday to win in 5:29.12. Her previous best in competition this season was 5:34.63.
"She had a personal best (in the 500) yesterday, and she went faster today," Wray said after Saturday's meet. "She's swimming with a great deal of confidence and strength."
Weather Potdevin also won the 200 free on Friday.
Weather's sister, Kelsey, was involved in two of the closest finishes of the meet - both with Craig's Shona Pierce.
Kelsey Potdevin won Friday's 50 free in 26.47, just .04 seconds ahead of Pierce. On Saturday, Pierce turned the tables in the 100 free, winning in 57.49 seconds, .04 seconds ahead of Potdevin.
Kelsey Potdevin also won Friday and Saturday's 100-yard backstroke.
On the Juneau boys squad, Paul Hughes won three individual events (Friday's 100 butterfly; Saturday's 50 free and 500 free) over the two days, and was part of three winning relay teams. His times in the 50 free (23.02) and 500 free (5:01.96) are both the fourth-fastest in the state this season.
Olin Robus won Friday's 100 breaststroke in 1:03.92 - fourth-fastest in the state this season.
"I'm coming off sickness, so I didn't expect to do that well," he said. "I was really excited."
On Saturday, Juneau's Kirk Fishel posted a time of 1:50.37 seconds in the 200 freestyle. That time is the seventh-best in the state this fall, according to the latest compilation of top times.
Fishel said that going into the event - one which he had not competed in for some time - he recalled a past 200 free race. In that event, he miscounted the number of laps, sprinted on the third lap and stopped without completing the fourth and final 50-yard lap.
Fishel said after he was done with that race, he felt he had some energy left. His strategy for this weekend's race was to repeat that fast third lap, and maintain that speed for the final 50 yards.
"I sprinted the third 50, and tried to hold out the last 50, and it turned out well," he said.
Wray said he was pleased - but not surprised - to see Fishel do so well in the 200 free, and also noted that Fishel posted excellent times in relay events.
"He has a great focus in practice, and is very directed on what he wants to accomplish," Wray said of Fishel. "That 200 freestyle was really indicative of that."
In the diving competition, Juneau's Marnita Coenraad won the girls title both days, and Juneau's Gabe Kelley swept the boys crowns. And to top off their accomplishments, several of the Juneau divers filled empty lanes in Saturday's girls and boys 200-yard freestyle relay.
The two races drew some of the loudest cheering of the two days of events, as teams lined the pool to watch their diving teammates in new environs. Prior to Saturday's meet, the swimmers had given the divers some basic tips on how to start from the blocks and other aspects of competitive swimming.
Coenraad, Gwen Miller and the Trucano sisters - Holly and Tanya - posted a time of 2:07.54, good for fourth place out of five teams. The Juneau team of Kaiser, Kelsey Potdevin, Weather Potdevin and Giselle Stone won in 1:47.62 - the sixth-best time in the state this fall.
In the boys 200-yard freestyle relay, Juneau divers Kelley, Nathan Schroeder and Joe Manning teamed up with swimmer Riley Hall to take sixth place in 2:00.52, beating out a team of Petersburg divers that finished in 2:01.61. Juneau's Fishel, Robus, Jake Kreuzenstein and Q Smyth won the event in 1:35.91.
"Swimmers always say that divers can't swim," Schroeder said after the race.
"But swimmers can't dive," Kelley added.
The Crimson Bears' next meet - the final meet of the regular season - is Oct. 18-19 in Ketchikan. After that, the Region V meet will be held in Petersburg on Nov. 1-2, with the state meet in Anchorage on Nov. 8-9.
"I think we're doing pretty well," Robus said of the outlook for the rest of the season. "You have some tough competition in Southeast, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. It'll be an exciting Southeast and state meet."
Complete individual results from the Juneau Invitational will be published later this week in the Juneau Empire.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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