Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Samantha Schwarting and Thunder Mountain High School seniors P.J. Foy and Olivia Mills signed national letters of intent Tuesday at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center to compete collegiately next season.
Schwarting will be attending College of the Holy Cross to swim for the Crusaders and head coach Kristy Jones.
“I visited and the campus was really beautiful,” Schwarting said. “I got to meet the team, and they are all super nice and inviting, and the coach was super great to talk to. I like that they have rigorous academics, but they also have a good swim program. They are mid-level DI.”
Holy Cross is a private Jesuit liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Crusaders compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level and are members of the Patriot League.
Schwarting is undecided in her major, but her interests include architecture and physical therapy.
Her early swim focus will be on the mid-distance freestyles, 200 to 500 meters, “and then hopefully I will get to do some sprinting and some distance as well.”
Schwarting’s advice to young athletes is “have fun, know what you are looking for, know who you want to be around, an inviting team, I guess…”
She said she will miss her teammates.
“I am leaving a lot of my really good friends,” she said. “I think I found some of my best friends on GSC…you are practicing every day with the same people you become really close with and establish good relationships.”
Foy will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to swim for the Tar Heels and head coach Mark Gangloff.
“I felt like the athletic program and the academics worked really well for me,” Foy said. “And I really loved the atmosphere of the campus and the team. It felt like one big family and that is really what I was looking for because I am going to be there for four years so I want to be happy. I felt like that was someplace I could be happy in.”
UNC is a public university. The Tar Heels compete at the NCAA DI level and are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Foy is considering a major in computer sciences or engineering.
Considered Alaska’s top male swimmer, Foy has no event preference for college.
“We will find that out when I get there,” he said. “That’s what the coaches said. They liked me for my versatility.”
Foy’s advice to young athletes is to “work hard. If you dream big you will go big. That is how I have always been…I have been dreaming about this, and it is here today.”
He said he will miss “everything” about Juneau.
“Mostly the people,” he said. “And the fact that it is home. I’ll have another home there (college), but I am going to miss being here.”
Foy moved from Kodiak to Juneau in middle school and was welcomed into the GSC.
“I got here and I wanted to keep swimming,” he said. “I loved swimming because my big sister swam, so I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
UNC coach Mark Gangloff first saw Foy swim in December of last year.
“I was really impressed with his abilities in the water. After one of the days he raced he came upstairs and met with me. I was impressed with him as a person and his enthusiasm for our sport. I believe an athlete that has some real talent and a lot of excitement can go a long way in our sport.
“Another thing that I appreciate about PJ is that he is a very capable athlete in many different events. He can do IM, breaststroke, butterfly, and sprint freestyle. I honestly don’t know which event will become his best event but am certain that he will do some great things during his time at UNC.
“UNC Men’s Swimming and Diving is a program on the rise in the NCAA rankings. We are building a great program of athletes like PJ and I know with more classes like the one PJ is a part of, UNC will become one of the premier swimming and diving programs in the world.”
Mills will be attending Gonzaga University to row crew for the Bull Dogs and head coach Andrew Derrick.
“I was introduced to their rowing program early on in my college recruiting process and fell in love with the sport,” Mills said. “And there was a high success rate for swimmers transferring to rowing and so they seemed just about as excited as I was about the program itself. And with the prospect of it being a new sport they were very supportive and gave me a step-by-step ‘this is how it is going to go,’ so that it wasn’t a big leap of faith, but a leap of faith nonetheless. I am just going to jump in feet first and figure it out.”
Gonzaga is a private Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic university located in Spokane, Washington. The Bulldogs compete at the NCAA DI level in the West Coast Conference (WCC).
Mills is following a major in veterinary sciences.
Mills said her advice to young athletes would be to “explore your chances and your opportunities. There are far more places than you realize and just making sure that you know what your options are and exploring as many as possible.”
She said she would miss the aspect of home. “It’s very nice coming from a community that has supported my athletic career since it began… our community is supportive of all of our athletes… It doesn’t matter what sport you come from, our community is always willing to lend a hand in making sure all the kids get the sports that they need.”
Mills noted the closeness of the high school and club swim teams.
“It is the friendships that began when we were seven, eight or nine,” she said. “And just the continuation of having a built-in family on top of getting to grow in our own sports and in our own way and find out what we are good at with the support of all of our teammates.”
College coaches were contacted by the Empire, but said they cannot comment on signings until the athletes’ paperwork is received and certified by the college compliance offices.
Glacier Swim Club coach Scott Griffith said: “As a group, this is what it is all about. You hate to see them go, but seeing them graduate and move on and see everything they have done over the years pay off, you know, it is pretty exciting…We swim together, like, they swim with 8-year-olds some days in the same pool. And they (younger swimmers) see these older swimmers and they want to be them, in two years or 10 years. It all comes back…and it goes by so fast, to see them grow up…I can remember all of them, PJ moved here in middle school, but I remember Olivia doing her first day of pre-comps, Samantha’s first day, I remember all that.”
All three of the signees have competed at the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) championships since their sophomore years. Their freshmen state season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
“This is why we coach,” JDHS Crimson Bears coach Seth Cayce said. “I coach because we get to see these kids grow up, and then they follow their dreams and they take it past us. It’s a lot of emotions, but it is a lot of fun for them. This is what they worked towards all of their adolescent career and they get to go be young adults swimming at college…They’ll have a lot of fun, a lot of memories and she (Samantha) is going to do great down there.”
Foy’s and Mills’ signings are the first for TMHS Falcons coach Josiah Loseby.
“It’s a privilege and exciting,” he said. “They came in during the COVID year and just watching them grow through that together with the team, and just these past four years together with everybody and just stepping into a large leadership role on the team has been great to see. I know that they are going to do great going off to college and I’m just excited to continue supporting them from afar the best I can on the next part of their journey.”
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
Foy: 3-time Outstanding Male Competitor. In 2023, broke his own state championship records in the 100 fly 48.27 and 100 breast in 54.67; 2022 won state titles in 200 free 1:40.16 and 100 fly 48.46; 2021 won state titles in 200 IM 1:50.55 and 100 breast 55.45.
Schwarting: In 2023, won state title in 200 free 1:55.64 and 200 medley relay in 1:48.45 (with jr. Emma Fellman, jr. Lucia Chapel, so. Valerie Peimann), and 400 free relay 3:37.01 (Peimann, jr. Pacific Ricke, Fellman) and placed second 100 free in 53.38 (winning time was 53.30); in 2022 placed second in 200 free 1:55.79 (WT 1:54.34) and second in 500 free 5:13.40 (WT 5:11.47); In 2021 placed second in the 500 free 5:19.50 (winning time was 5:12.35) and fourth in 200 free 1:57.21.
Mills: In 2023, placed second in 50 free 24.73 (WT 24.35), second 200 free relay 1:41.07 (fr. Kennedy Miller, so. Deedee Mills, fr. Lily Francis) and fourth 100 breast 1:09.41 (WT Fellman 1:02.82); 2022 placed 13th in 200 free 2:08.12; 2021 placed sixth in the 50 free 25.15 and seventh in the 100 free 54.42.
REGION V CHAMPIONSHIP INDIVIDUAL TITLES
Foy: 2023- 100 Fly 50.28, 100 breast 58.73; 2022- 200 free 1:43.08, 100 fly 49.95; 2021- 200 IM 1:55.35, 100 breast 56.60.
Schwarting: 2023- 200 free 1:57.99, 100 free 54.40; 2022- 200 free 1:58.79, 500 free 5:23.52; 2021- 200 free 1:57.79, 500 free 5:18.47.
Mills: 2023- 50 free 25.04, 2nd 100 breast 1:10.68; 2022- 2nd 200 free 2:01.48, 2nd 100 breast 1:10.74; 2021- 50 free 24.96, 100 free 54.75.
GLACIER SWIM CLUB RECORDS
Foy: 13/14 age group- 50 free 21.77, 200 free 1:46.13, 100 breast 58.88, 200 free relay 1:36.01 (Aaron Mulgrew-Truitt, Sven Rasmussen, Chris Degener, Foy), 400 FR 3:32.31 (Rasmussen, Foy, Benson Boudreaux, Mulgrew-Truitt); 15/16 AG- 50 free 20.51, 100 free 44.52, 200 free 1:38.72, 500 free 4:40.75, 1000 free 9:59.79, 1650 free 16:09.69 (also Open record), 100 back 51.00, 200 back 1:49.42 (+Open), 100 breast 55.45, 200 breast 1:58.76 (+Open), 100 fly 47.69 (+Open), 200 fly 1:51.67, 200 IM 1:50.11, 400 IM 4:08.20; OPEN- 50 free 20.05, 100 free 43.98, 200 free 1:38.15, 500 free 4:35.59, 1000 free 9:44.15, 100 back 49.73, 100 breast 54.67, 200 IM 1:49.79, 200 medley relay 1:36.17 (Caleb Peimann, Foy, Chaz VanSlyke, Harrison Holt), 400 MR 3:27.93 (Peimann, Foy, VanSlyke, Holt), 200 free relay 1:26.15 (Foy, Holt, VanSlyke, Peimann).
Schwarting: 9/10 AG- 200 MR 2:18.89 ((Gabie Anderson, Emma Fellman, Emily Delgado, Schwarting); 11/12 AG- 200 MR 2:00.76 (Anderson, Fellman, Delgado, Schwarting), 400 MR. 4:29.13 (Anderson, Fellman, Delgado, Schwarting); 15/16 AG- 400 MR 4:09.63 (Ricke, Fellman, Schwarting, Mills), 200 FR 1:42.03 (Schwarting, Fellman, Ricke, Mills).
Mills: 15/16 AG- 400 MR 4:09.63 (Ricke, Fellman, Schwarting, Mills), 200 FR 1:42.03 (Schwarting, Fellman, Ricke, Mills).