The home-pool advantage during the recent Winter Games North meet pushed many Haines Dolphins swimmers to register for races they had never previously attempted.
Coach Robert Butker said the meet, held Jan. 18-20, was an opportunity for the younger swimmers to test their limits, as the Juneau team also brought many of its younger members. Butker estimated among Dolphins and the Juneau and Whitehorse teams, 60 to 70 swimmers participated, about two dozen of them from Haines.
“The home meet really helped the kids’ comfort levels, so you saw a lot of kids trying different strokes and distances. At the beginning of the year, it was like pulling teeth to get them to think about that stuff,” Butker said.
First-time efforts included the 200-yard individual medley by 13-year-old Madeline Andriesen, the 200-yard freestyle by 10-year-old Siyel Galindo-George, and the 100-yard butterfly by 10-year-old Kamakana Kanahele.
Butker said he was pleased with the team’s performance in general, but said there is still room for improvement, such as in the relay races.
“The team did really well. There were a few more disqualifications than I would have liked to see... The disqualifications are a result of a lot of the younger kids setting the bar really high,” Butker said.
First-place finishes by Dolphins included Brennan Palmieri, 50-yard and 100-yard breaststroke, boys 10 and under; Madeline Andriesen, 200-yard backstroke, girls 14 and under; Jasper Posey, 100-yard freestyle, boys 14 and under; Hayley Sweet-Cushing, 500-yard freestyle, girls 12 and under, and 100-yard individual medley, girls 11-12; Naomi Green, 200-yard breaststroke, girls 11-12; Sierra Clark, 25-yard breaststroke, girls 8 and under; Jackson Long, 50-yard freestyle, boys 8 and under; and Siyel Galindo-George, 50-yard freestyle, boys 10 and under.
Butker said he was grateful to the volunteers, particularly parents who came out to time, for making the team’s only home meet come together.