It might be early in the high school swim and dive season this year in Southeast Alaska, but Juneau athletes are already making a splash at previously held records.
The Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé swim and dive teams hosted their first home competition of the season during the weekend. Teams traveled from all around Southeast Alaska including Craig, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka and Wrangell. More than 100 students participated in the competition, according to meet director Brooke Schwarting.
During the two-day event, TMHS girls edged the competition both Friday and Saturday, but were closely followed by JDHS girls. Ketchikan boys took the lead both days, earning more than double the number of points as TMHS in second place on Friday and again handily leading on Saturday.
TMHS head coach Josiah Loseby said he was happy with the team’s strong overall performances so early in the season.
“We had really strong swims and really strong dives, and I think that carried us forward,” he said. “I think there was a lot more mental capacity that was freed up to be able to really focus on themselves, their races, their dives, and then being there to support their teammates, both before and after their swimming and diving.”
Loseby said this year is the biggest team TMHS has ever had with 32 swimmers and divers joining the team — six of whom are seniors. Both TMHS and JDHS already competed in Sitka earlier this season. Loseby said even during that first meet athletes were already swimming close to their all-time personal best times and in some instances breaking them.
Loseby said TMHS senior PJ Foy has already broken his own record in the 500-yard freestyle, a record he previously set in 2021. Freshman Amy Liddle broke the girls’ 500-yard freestyle record, previously held by her sister Nancy Liddle since 2019.
Loseby said TMHS divers have also been having great performances, with standout divers during the weekend being Rhys Jackson and Travis Morgan, both sophomores.
“Travis Morgan is a new diver to our team this year, and he was throwing a lot of really high-difficulty dives and scoring well with them too, so that was fun to see,” he said. “This was Rhys’ first meet this season and he had a really strong first meet.”
Loseby said he’s excited for what the future holds as the season continues.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the hard work that we put forth every morning and every afternoon culminate into those performances come to the region and state championships,” he said. “It’s such a short season, but there’s a lot of love and a lot of care and a lot of support that we all give each other on the team, and that really just makes the whole process really worth it.”
JDHS head coach Seth Cayce agreed and said his team of 22 swimmers proved to be strong competitors over the weekend despite losing some of its top senior racers from last season.
“I thought we did pretty well — it’s always fun swimming in one of our home pools and it’s always fun to compete in the areas that you’re used to,” he said. “We learned a lot and we’ve got a number of things to correct. I like to use these regular season meets as a chance to fine-tune our strokes and our tempos and how we race. Everyone was doing a pretty good job of that so far this weekend.”
Cayce said some of the top performers were sophomore Valerie Peimann, junior Emma Fellman and senior Samantha Schwarting. He said JDHS did not have any athletes come out for diving this year.
“I’d say they definitely are kind of the leaders of the girls’ team in terms of talent,” he said. “The girls got their eyes set on a top two or three finish at state this year, which hasn’t been done since 2016, but that’s definitely a possibility.”
Cayce said he’s most excited about watching new athletes grow into better swimmers as the season progresses.
“We’ve got a bunch of new swimmers and just the progressions that the new swimmers have made just from two weeks ago, it was a pleasant surprise,” he said.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 528-1807.