Pool closure upends Junior Olympics competition

Caanan Larson competes in the 500-yard freestyle competition. Photo courtesy of Lee Robinson.

The Haines Dolphins swim team competed for the first time this season for the Age Group Champs at the pool last weekend.

The swim team has had to work around several pool closures and a late start due to pandemic concerns.

“Typically, this is a championship meet held in a large facility with over three hundred athletes in attendance,” assistant coach Jackie St. Clair said. “This year all the swim teams in Alaska participated in a postal meet, where each team swims the events in their own pool and sends in their results which get merged at the end of the month.”

The Dolphins will see how they stack up against swimmers statewide next week. During the two-day event, 25 swimmers participated. Eight-year-olds Canaan Larson and Grady Robinson swam the 500 freestyle for the first time and Larson set a new team record. Every athlete who swam either competed in a new event or improved upon their existing times, St. Clair said.

Haines Dolphin McConnel Robinson competes in this year’s first swim meet in late April. Photo courtesy of Lee Robinson.

Garrison DelPrete recorded three qualifying times for Junior Olympics in the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard freestyle and an Alaska Senior Championship time in his 50-yard freestyle. Caedmon DelPrete earned a new age group qualifying time in his 50-yard backstroke. Lillian Robinson earned a new age group qualifying time in her 100-yard freestyle. McConnel Robinson earned a new time in his 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard individual medley and 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.

St. Clair said because the pool is scheduled to close June 1, the team will be unable to compete in Junior Olympics, which is typically held in April but was rescheduled to June.

“We are trying to figure out how to get our qualifying athletes a chance to swim and compete in this meet, but that’s hard when you don’t have a facility,” St. Clair said. “It would be like if the school closed the gym weeks before the state basketball tournament.”