As Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain swim and dive teams are preparing for the Region V meet, which will be held in Juneau at Dimond Park Aquatic Center on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28., Oct. 29, JDHS swim coach Seth Cayce said his team is hoping for a repeat of last season when JDHS won the Region V championship meet.
“That was the first time that both genders won since 2007,” Cayce said. “The girls placed fifth at the state championship meet, our highest since 2016, and the boys placed fourth, our highest since 2010. I’m looking forward to the competition. There are a lot of top-notch swimmers this year in our Region and a lot of the races are going to be close.”
Senior and boy’s team captain Chaz VanSlyke said when thinking about a path to repeating the success the team saw last season, he mostly chooses to stay consistent with what he knows has worked in the past.
“To be honest I feel like I’ve been practicing almost the same as last year but I’ve been trying to improve my endurance for my events and I’ve been focusing on my underwater work to try and get my max distance off the wall,” VanSlyke said.
The preliminary matches are set to take place at 5:15 p.m. on Friday and finals on Saturday at 3 p.m. Though JDHS saw seven of their seniors graduate and three other underclassmen not return from last season, Cayce said they still have high expectations on both the boys and girls side this year and are confident they can reach their goals with new team additions rising to the challenge.
“The girls have goals of placing in the top three at state this year,” Cayce said. “All 10 of the students we lost from last year scored a lot of points for us last year at regions but all the returners and freshmen have been improving and stepping up in a big way so far. If we perform like we are capable of then I like our chances to repeat for both the boys and girls.”
Despite some of the changes to this year’s lineup, junior and girl’s team captain Emily Delgado said they’re fortunate to have a motivated and competitive team, which makes it natural for them to support each other and stay focused on the team and individual goals they’ve set.
“As captain, I plan things that keep our swimmers engaged,” Delgado said. “Whether it be team bonding, dress-up days before a meet, or activities for downtime during a meet, I find something the team can do together to build our relationships. The first step to keeping everyone focused and motivated is ensuring they are having fun. Especially this season, we have had a lot of ear infections, sicknesses, and more that have prevented people, like me, from being at practice. But, with the support from our teammates, we have persevered.”
According to Cayce, swim/dive is different from other sports in the sense that it isn’t a win/loss record that determines seeding when it comes to regions, whereas other sports will rely on a culmination of games played throughout the season to determine who advances.
“I like to think of our regular season competitions as ‘tune-up’ meets for regions and state,” Cayce said. “They give us an opportunity to work on things we have been focusing on in practice and try out new racing strategies. We are all working towards a goal of competing at the highest possible level at the region and state meets and we can’t do that without the practice and repetition that the regular season offers.”
In going into this year’s region competitions, Cayce said he and assistant coach Amber Kelly have been pushing the team harder than in previous seasons because of the potential they see in them and the opportunities they’re well aware are within their grasp.
“We go through different phases throughout the season where we try to focus on different components of racing,” Cayce said. “We’ve spent time on building endurance, building power, technical aspects, and then of course speed. Some days are harder than others and if you want to be a successful swimmer you have to be willing to push your limits in practice. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far this year and I’m excited to see the kids’ hard work pay off this weekend and next.”