Prairie High School’s swim team competed at its first competitive meet of the season on Wednesday, Dec. 15 against Robert A. Long High School, Mark Morris High School, and Battle Ground High School.
Out of three teams (or matches), coach Patricia Hicks said the team won two, with their scores being 91, 89 and 70. Nine swimmers on the team qualified for districts after the meet. They included Jonah Colagross, Vladyslav Danyluk, Troy Delp, Seth Hahn, Aidan Laughter, Sean Parks, Kai Phed, Vlad Revutsky and Jack Houlahan.
Hicks said she is happy with the turnout for the team this year and is ready for a strong season.
“We have a lot of returning upperclassmen and some new swimmers that haven’t swam before,” Hicks said. “We just had our first swim meet, and in two weeks’ time of practice, they know how to swim some of the strokes that we have, so I was very pleased.”
The initial meet was not a sanctioned meet, which involves the 50 meter freestyle, the 100 meter freestyle and the 200 meter freestyle. For the meet, the swimmers did a 75 meter freestyle instead, which is about three laps. It also included the “plunge and dive,” which has swimmers jump off a block and glide as far as they can. Whoever gets the farthest wins that event.
“It’s kind of a silly thing, but the kids really enjoy it, so that starts our season off as a fun meet for everybody to get their jitters out and getting prepared for the season to begin,” Hicks said.
Some new players who stand out are sophomores Alec Laughter and Riley Seese. Hicks said Laughter is new to swimming, but he did an exceptional job in the first meet. As for Seese, he’s also new and did a “phenomenal job,” according to Hicks.
She said Seese swims freestyle, does flip-turns, and has dove off the block, which are things Hicks said he couldn’t do two weeks prior to the meet.
“They’re open to learning, they’re motivated, and they’re wanting to better understand the sport of swimming,” Hicks said. “I feel that the team, when together, help build that because everybody is encouraging each other.”
Hicks said she has observed upperclassmen help the younger swimmers work on their flip-turns, for example.
“Instead of just me working with five or six kids, I have upperclassmen taking them under their wing to work one-on-one with them,” she said.
The team has so far shown that they are eager, responsible and have a lot of character.
In all the years Hicks has coached, she’s consistently surprised at how well the swimmers pick up the sport. Sometimes swimmers are not able to swim a lap at first, but by the end of the season, many of them earn a letter and a letterman jacket and are able to swim 500 yards. The team members have to be able to swim the 200 individual medley, which involves all four legal strokes, to earn a letter.
Hicks said she’s had students in the past who qualified for districts and placed in the top six there. Aside from doing those tasks, she said earning a letter also involves exceptional sportsmanship and leadership, which is something not every swimmer can achieve.
“I’m setting up (high) expectations for these swimmers and they have to work toward it,” Hicks said. “To reach a goal in life, you have to work toward it, so we instill a lot of those skills like time management and good sportsmanship, which are all things you need to earn a letter.”
The swimmers’ biggest obstacle, according to Hicks, is the limit they put on themselves. At the beginning of the year, she said swimmers will say “I can’t swim that,” but that changes as they continue to train.
Once they build up that endurance, they’re “excited, proud, and amazed that they were able to accomplish it,” Hicks said. “With enough training and practice, they realize they can accomplish it.”
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