Pool breakfasts are a staple for the Glacier Swim Club.
Every Saturday, after getting done with their workout at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center, scores of teammates exit to the locker room to the meal prepared for them. The breakfasts help reinforce one of the club’s essential values of inclusivity, which the team seems to have wholeheartedly embraced.
“They’re swimming as a unit, which is nice,” GSC coach Robby Jarvill said. “With age group swimming, you have kids that are 9 years old to 18 years old. It’s a family. They take care of each other and the older ones give back to the younger ones.”
As an added team-building exercise during Saturday’s feast — the final one before the team takes off for the Alaska Junior Olympic Championship meet — seven swimmers fielded questions from Jarvill, dishing on everything including their pre-race routines, inspiration and diet. Each panelist represented a different age group within the club and they were judged on the quality of their responses.
The youth panel was made up of Valerie Peimann, 10; Andrew Sanders, 9; Emma Fellman, 12; Mikayla Neal, 14; Sven Rasmussen, 13; Chris Ray, 18; and Selma Matiashowski, 18.
Several of the swimmers were asked what their biggest achievement in swimming looks like.
“I think it’s helping GSC become a better team,” Rasmussen said. “It has been our goal for a long time now to win Junior Olympics, and we’re really close this year and I think we can do it.”
Neal talked about her biggest challenge in training.
“My biggest challenge in training is probably swimming as I would in a race,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to think of practice as your way to just practice, not swim your hardest. I overcome this challenge visualizing being (in) the race itself and trying my hardest.”
Ray shared about the inspiration his mother gives.
“She’s probably the strongest woman I’ve ever met,” Ray said. “She’s strong-willed. I strive to be like her. There’s no one I respect more in the world.”
Sanders talked about some of his favorite foods.
“If it’s a special night, my mom will get me McDonald’s, but I eat pizza sometimes,” Sanders said. “Sometimes I eat my dad’s moose burgers that he makes and on the weekends I eat a lot of ice cream.”
Peimann admitted that swimming is a big commitment that can wear her out.
“When it comes to swimming practice, I think, ‘Oh man, another day,’” she said. “I think, ‘I don’t want to be here,’ but when I’m done with practice I think, ‘It’s over, I’m excited, I get to go home and eat dinner.’ I know that working at practice in the long run, it really helps you, and it makes me swim faster when I’m actually racing.”
The Junior Olympics begin Thursday at the Bartlett High School Pool. The event features just over 125 races total, with preliminaries and finals of events taking place on the same day. GSC came in second at the meet last year, and Jarvill said he expects another top-three finish this year. Northern Lights Swim Club, of Anchorage, won the championship over GSC by just a few hundred points last year.