Each of the 13 Haines Dolphins swimmers competing at last weekend’s Ryan Downing Memorial swim meet in Whitehorse, Y.T., improved their times by at least two seconds, said head coach Robert Butker.
Accounting for the difference of a metric pool, two yards longer than the one in Haines, the time improvements were more like four of five seconds, he said.
“Every swimmer that showed up exceeded my expectations,” Butker said.
The victories at the Whitehorse meet were not confined to personal bests. Jasper Posey took home a cash prize for his age group’s 50-meter freestyle race, while Maya Feldman and Megan Whitermore came in first in their heats as well.
Butker said he understood when he took over the head coach position in September that the Dolphins had experienced a rough past season. But with such a strong showing at the Whitehorse meet, he hopes to keep the ball rolling in the right direction.
“We’re really looking to grow the program in numbers and in reputation,” he said. The team currently has about 30 members.
“More so than going to meets and competing in them, (we’re) just making sure that everybody has personal improvement. We aren’t focusing on meets, per se, we’re focusing on personal growth, and the meets will follow,” he said.
Skye Posey is not one of the swimmers concerned solely with personal growth. When Butker walked in the door 15 minutes before the start of Tuesday’s practice, Posey, 11, presented him with a packet outlining qualifying times for various races.
She had highlighted races she wanted to swim, checked off races she either qualified for or was one second away from qualifying for, and had already converted her times from the Whitehorse meet.
“Skye is all about ‘I’m here to compete, I want to do better, I want to improve my times, this is how much I want to improve them by, this is who I’m gunning for,’” Butker said.
When asked how she liked having Butker as the new coach, Posey, a Dolphin since age 5, wrapped her coach in a big hug.
Butker’s approach appears to serve the goals of hardcore competitors like Skye as well as more laidback swimmers.
“What we’re here to do,” he said, “is provide an atmosphere that our swimmers can grow in personally and have fun in, and we believe everything else will follow.”
The next Dolphins meet is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 9 in Petersburg.