Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Dolphins frolic at community meet


Heavy snowfall didn’t drown out enthusiasm for the Haines Dolphins’ community swim meet on Saturday, as about 40 residents participated in a range of events.

“It was great, considering the weather,” said parent and participant James Alborough. “When we first arrived, we wondered how many people would show up.”

The three-hour meet had a $2 entry fee for adults and $1 for students, with proceeds going to the pool facility. Coach Robert Butker said the team owed “a huge thank you to the pool for donating the time” for the meet.

Highlights included an immersion suit relay, a wet T-shirt relay, and an “aquatic obstacle course” featuring hula hoops. Even the more traditional events could prove to be exhausting, Butker said.

“I think a lot of parents were surprised how much it took just to get there and back,” he said, referring to one lap of the pool.

Rich Chapell, whose children Dylan, 11, and Sally, 9, are on the team, said Saturday was his first time swimming at a meet. He competed on a 200-yard freestyle relay team with Alborough, Courtney Culbeck and Jon Hirsh, and donned an immersion or “survival” suit for a 50-yard event “that was harder than it looks.”

“Having to flop around in all of that extra, neoprene fabric made it difficult to move,” Chapell said.

The meet also matched up Alborough, who “stuck to the short races,” against his 15-year-old son, Jasper Posey, in the 50-yard freestyle.

“I was going as hard as I could, and my kid still beat me,” Alborough said.

A relay including coaches Butker, Marian Carlson, Diana Mallory and resident Eric Forster impressed, but when it came to some of the less experienced swimmers, “it looked like some of them needed help,” said Kamakana Kanahele, 13.

“It was fun watching the grown-ups swim against the kids,” he said.

Butker said the meet fit in at “a really dead part of the season,” between January’s Winter Games in Haines and a Whitehorse meet in April. The Dolphins benchmarked times and set goals, making the meet business as usual for some swimmers.

“It was easy, because all you had to do, basically, was swim,” said Koa Doddridge, 8.

Alborough said the gathering was “a great mix of kids, parents and community members.” Nancy Nash had a notable performance, finishing the 500-yard freestyle.

Butker said he’d like the meet to become an annual event, and he’s already pondering ideas for next year.

Next up for the Dolphins is their annual Swim-a-Thon fundraiser, scheduled for Saturday, March 29. Butker said team members have “pledged a lot of swimming,” with some planning to complete as many as 200 lengths.

Donors can give online at, which includes links for all participating Dolphins. The team raised $17,500 last year, and has set a goal of $16,000 for 2014, with a bit smaller squad.

“Anybody in the community knows at least one Haines Dolphin,” Butker said.