Juneau’s Glacier Swim Club Chasing State Title

    Members of the Glacier Swim Club pose for a photo on the beach at Auke Recreation Picnic Area on Monday. GSC competes at the Junior Olympics in Anchorage, Thursday through Sunday. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Glacier Swim Club will be chasing history this weekend as they have a chance to win the Alaska Swimming Junior Olympic Championships at Anchorage’s Bartlett High School pool.

      The GSC will take 40 swimmers to the championships that begin Thursday in the 25 yard length of aquatic destiny that was the site of last season’s state high school championships.

      “Our strengths are definitely, probably in - there are two different age groups - our 11-12 and 13-14 year old girls are very strong and our 15 and older boys,” GSC head coach Scott Griffith said. “Those are definitely are strongest areas on our team.”

      Both individual events and relays will be key for the GSC scoring.

      “Both to some degree but relays are huge,’ Griffith said. “Usually you can look at what teams have the most relays and generally that has a good determination who is going to win the meet. No necessarily because the relays are scoring the points but because they have the depths in different age groups to score points… looking back at past years, we are actually a little more thin than we have been in the past. We have usually taken 50-60 kids to this meet, so our numbers are less... but everyone’s numbers are lighter than normal for reasons over the past two years so perhaps maybe we do have a shot… I don’t usually put too much into that, we just go swim hard and by the end of first or second day you kind of get a feeling if you have a chance to be in it or not and you feed off that… We are definitely ready to swim fast to the best of our ability and if that means we are in the running for a title so be it, we’ll give all we got…”

      Griffith noted that Patrick (PJ) Foy, who is in consideration for the male swimmer of the year in Alaska, will be leading the GSC scoring and a top placer in the boys 15-and-over events.

      “He actually chose to swim some of his, not best races,” Griffith said. “Kind of dip his foot into some different things, race some different people and try to break some different records… he’ll have a good shot at winning them even though they are not his best races. He kind of leads our team, he is our strongest swimmer.”

      Griffith also noted that Valerie Peimann, Kate Schwarting and Lily Francis will be strong in the 13-14 girls age group and Amy Liddle in the 11-12 girls.

      “Amy Liddle should dominate every race she swims,” Griffith said. “She is really just racing the clock for records. I don’t see anyone even coming close to her… she should win all seven events in convincing action…”

      Olivia Jarvill and Cora Soboleff will be strong in 10-under-girls, Ethan Marsh in 10-under boys, and Andrew Sanders in 11-12 boys were noted by Griffith, among others.

      Griffith said this GSC team and JOs are special.

      “Definitely the energy and the excitement,” he said. “I don’t know if I have forgotten what it is like or because it has been so long but I really think it is higher than normal. They are bouncing off the walls, excited, a lot of them have never been… it is new to a lot of people or forgotten. So I think they are really feeding off each other, they’re really positive, they’re excited about their relays…”

      Griffith said the GSC stayed in the water as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      “We have been swimming more or less the whole time,” he said. “I think we were out six or seven weeks when it first hit, two or three weeks when we had that wave in the fall, but more or less we have been training. Even when we haven’t been swimming we have had other activities.”

      GSC has placed second in past JOs, the last being before COVID-19 hit in 2019. The team scored 3,055.50 points, being edged out by Aurora Swim Team’s 3,086. They have placed second in 2018, 2015, 2013 and 2012. The GSC won the boys team scoring in 2006 but placed third in combined points. In 2008 and 2007, GSC was combined with other Southeast clubs and won JOs as Southeast Alaska Swim Team, and placed second in 2010. 

      Gabie Anderson (girls 15 and over) will swim the 100 and 200 back, 50 and 100 free and 200 medley; and Caitlin Sanders (G 13-14) the 50, 100, 200 and 500 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 fly.

      “It is the pinnacle of the club season,” Anderson said. “It is the biggest meet of GSC and I’m really excited to go… I took a small break after high school season but I am getting back into it.”

      Of her first JOs, Anderson said, “I’m pretty sure I was a 10-and-under and I think I swam pretty good for a first JOs.”

      Anderson said she tells the 10-and-under swimmers now to “Really, just swim your hardest and don’t miss any events - I came close to it but I don’t think I actually did…”

      Said Sanders, “This will be my first JOs. I’m younger than Gabie (Anderson) and we’ve had COVID which has cancelled it for the past couple years so this will be really interesting to go to the biggest meet for the first time.”

      Sanders is working back through a shoulder injury and has had the support of the entire GSC team.

      “GSC is great because we have two different high schools and we have all different age ranges,” Sanders said. “And everybody has their own stroke and everyone just brings different personality to the team and it just makes it really unique.”

      Nova Brakes-Hines (G 15 & O) will swim the 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 free; and Chris Degener (boys 15 and over) the 50, 200 and 500 free, 100 and 200 breast, 200 and 400 medley.

       “JOs is the last meet of our swim season,” Degener said. “Basically we are training this whole year. The high schoolers had high school state, and that was in November, and then we are training all this year. There have been a few meets in the middle but this is really the season ender… This is really the final meet where we show off how hard we have worked and how hard we have trained. It is just time for ourselves to prove to the rest of the state of Alaska how well we have been training.”

      Degener has been swimming over 10 years and has been to six JOs.

      “I’m not very nervous, I know what to expect. I have been to that pool,” Degener said. “I know exactly where we are going to park, how we are going to walk in, the locker room, how to get on your block and do your race. But, especially for these newer people, it is their first time, it is kind of intimidating. You are going to a meet with strange people… the best swimmers in the state of Alaska… you just have to do your best in the face of that big crowd.”

      Degener’s advice to younger teammates was “Do what you’ve been training this whole year… you’ve been putting in the work and if you have truly been putting in the work you have nothing to fear because you are going to do your best. However you swim, if you swim fast or you swim faster, you still did your best. You can’t really complain because you did your best.”

      Emily Delgado (G 15 & O) will swim the 500, 1000 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 fly, and 200 and 400 back; Ayla Erickson (G 15 & O) the 50, 100, and 200 breast, the 50 and 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 medley; and Emma Fellman (G 15 & O) the 100 and 200 breast, 100 and 200 back, 100 fly, and 200 and 400 medley.

      “It’s just JOs,” Fellman said. “Everyone from around the state gets together and it’s just nice.”

    Fellman said she is looking forward to the 200 breaststroke because, “I have some friends that are doing that with me and I am excited to race them.”

      Fellman, 15, said she has been going to JOs since she was eight.

      “I was really scared,” she said of her first JOs. “I remember looking at all the big kids.”

      She tells the GSC eight year olds now, “Just have fun, enjoy it, but it is scary.”

      Patrick Foy (B 15 & O) will swim the 100 and 200 back, 100, 500 and 1000 free, 100 fly and 400 medley.

      “I’m really excited to go there and have fun with my team,” Foy said. “We are bringing a really big team this year and it will be lots of fun.”

      Foy said his favorite memory was a JOs when he lived in Kodiak and raced on the relay teams there with friends.

      “This will be my first JOs with GSC, because of COVID and all that,” Foy said. “So I think this will be cool.”

      Foy’s advice to younger GSC swimmers is, “There will be ups and downs… and you have got to keep going.”

      Katylina Foy (G 11-12) will be a relay alternate; Lily Francis (G 13-14) will swim the 50, 100 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 fly, and 200 and 400 medley; and Harrison Holt (B 15 & O) the 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1650 free, and 100 and 200 back.

      “It’s fun just getting to compete against people in the state,” Holt said. “Kind of people you have known since you have been little and it’s a pretty fun swim meet. Kind of the top of our swimming for Alaska in the state before you start heading out of state. I’ve been to so many (JOs) I can’t really remember the very first one but I was probably nine years old…”

      Holt said his advice to younger swimmers going to their first JOs is, “Don’t be too hesitated… we are all here to have fun. Don’t go in there scared. Just have a good time. It’s a good way to meet people and it can be really fun.”

      Angela Huffer (G 13-14) will swim the 50, 100, 200 and 500 free, and 100 and 200 back.

      “It is my first meet out of town in a long time,” Huffer said. “I’ve been swimming for three years and now I’m having a meet out of town and that is fun. I get to hang out with friends.”

      Huffer said of GSC, “Everyone is very supportive and encouraging and they make me laugh.”

      Olivia Jarvill (G 10 & U) will swim the 50 and 100 fly, 50 and 100 back, 200 and 500 free, and 200 medley; William Kiessling (B 11-12) the 50 back; Amy Liddle (G 11-12) 200, 500 and 1650 free, 50 and100 back, 100 and 400 medley; Nancy Liddle (G 15 & O) 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 fly, 400 medley; Ethan Marsh (B 10 & U) 50 and 100 back, 50 and 100 fly, 100 free; Mary Erin MacDonald (G 15 & O), Clive Mateo (B 13-14) and Taylor Mesdag (G 13-14) 50 and 100 free; and Kennedy Miller (G 11-12) 50 and 100 fly, 100 and 200 breast, 100 free, 100 and 200 medley.

      “We get to visit Anchorage and we are going to compete against a ton of other swim teams from Alaska,” Miller said.

      She noted her season has been good so far and her times have improved. She intends to swim with the team over the summer as well.

      “I really love GSC,” she said. “It is a great place.”

      Dannan Mills (G 13-14) will swim the 50, 100 and 200 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 breast and 200 medley.

      “It is like a really big meet that is really what we spend the whole time training for,” D. Mills said. “I guess all the meets really before then are just building up so we can race that. We haven’t won JOs before so that is like our main goal.”

      D. Mills said she was nine in her first JOs.

      “It was very exciting for me because my sister (Olivia Mills) didn’t got to JOs when she was nine,” she said. “So it was nice to have that feeling like I completed something that somebody else couldn’t achieve. And it was really fun because the team was really supportive for all the young kids who were going.”

      D. Mills said her advice to young JO swimmers is, “In the first few meets if you are not doing well just keep trying and reach your goals… and set goals that are reachable and not something that you feel you might not reach.”

      Olivia Mills (G 15 & O) will swim the 50, 100, 200 and 500 free, and 100 and 200 back.

        “It’s a very big meet state-wise,” O. Mills said. “I think the biggest meet that we have outside of high school season. And it’s fun because we get all of our kids throughout our 10-and-unders up to our high school students who are 18, sometimes 19… it’s more dynamic when you have such a big group…”

      O. Mills remembers her first JO.

      “My very first JOs my dad took me,” she said in mirth. “Sadly it’s what got him banned from taking us to bigger swim meets… we totally missed on of my events… so he kind of got banned from taking us to anything bigger than age groups…”

      O. Mills’ advice to younger swimmers is to “listen to your coaches, they know a lot more about this than you do… and parents, listen to your kids, they are listening to their coaches.”

      Anita Morrison (G 15 & O) will swim the 500, 1000 and 1650 free, 200 breast, 100 fly, and 200 and 400 medley.

      “A lot of teams from Alaska come in and swim their best and their fastest,” Morrison said. “It is just really fun to be around all those swimmers and that energy.”

      “It was a little bit scary,” Morrison said of her first JOs. “But after a while I kind of got used to all the crowds and the people and the cheering… it is just a really fun thing that a lot of people do…”

      Aaron Mulgrew-Truitt (B 15 & O) will swim the 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free, and 200 medley; Adrell Mulgrew-Truitt (B 15 & O) 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1650 free, 100 back, 100 fly; Ben Pallenberg (B 11-12) 50 free, back and breast; Samuel Pallenberg (B 11-12) 50 free; Caleb Peimann (B 15 & O) 100 and 200 back, 50 free; Valerie Peimann (G 13-14) 500, 1000 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 breast, 200 and 400 medley; Matthew Plang (B 15 & O) 50, 100 and 500 free, 100 and 200 breast, 100 fly and 200 medley; Lena Rasmussen (G 11-12) 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 back, 400 medley; and Sven Rasmussen (B 15 & O) 100 and 200 fly, 100 and 200 breast, 1650 free, 200 and 400 medley.

      “JOs is the culmination of our swim season,” Sven Rasmussen said. “So all the training we have been doing leads up to this big meet. This is the meet we try to push to win for every year, super challenging for us, really pushes everyone to their limits, and really this is the first time we have had JOs since, almost three years. It has been three years since we have had this meet… we are really excited to have it back and finally doing this again.”

      Rasmussen noted the work swimmers put into high school and club.

      “It kind of makes swimming like your eternal sport,” Rasmussen said. “Fall season is push, push, push to regions and state with Thunder Mountain… you take, maybe a week long break and then it is back into club swimming getting ready for senior championships in January and now train throughout spring for this meet here. It’s just been a lot of training throughout the whole year… all my training throughout the entire year is contributing to this meet so it is really exciting to see if it all paid off.”

      Pacific Ricke (G 15 & O) will swim the 200, 500 1000 and 1650 free, 100 and 200 back, and 400 medley; Andrew Sanders (B 11-12) 50 and 100 free, 50 and 100 back, 50 and 100 fly, 100 medley; Samantha Schwarting (G 15 & O) and sister Kate Schwarting (G 13-14) will both swim the 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free, and 100 and 200 back.

      “I think it is exciting because we haven’t had it in three years,” Samantha Schwarting said. “I’m excited to swim and compete against everyone. I haven’t been to a meet with this many people from Alaska in a long time.”

      S. Schwarting shared her first JO memory.

      “Since we dive in the shallow end I remember one girl got a bloody nose and it made me really freaked out that we had to dive in the shallow end,” she said.

      Her advice to younger swimmers is “Just have fun, enjoy it. Don’t stress yourself out too much…”

      Cora Soboleff (G 10 & U) will swim the 50, 100 and 200 free, 100 fly, 100 breast, 100 and 200 medley; Riley Soboleff (G 13-14) 100 and 200 breast, 50 free; and Chaz VanSlyke (B 15 & O) 100 fly, 50 and 100 free, 100 and 200 back, 200 and 400 medley.

      “Our whole team is going to do well I think,” VanSlyke said. “We’ve been practicing pretty hard… usually you just want to talk to the young ones (swimmers) and make sure they are doing fine and make sure they make their events and just help out in any way you can.”

      VanSlyke remembers his first JOs.

      “It was pretty fun,” he said. “I remember all my ‘elders’ being pretty friendly to me and it kind of just made me want to keep on swimming because that was one of my first ever meets.”

      Tytan Frawley, one of the GSC’s senior role models who has qualified for numerous JOs, including this season, and has state championships and club records, will not be attending this meet as he has traveled to numerous events and needs to focus on his upcoming graduation and university swimming.

      Frawley has tutored the younger swimmers on what to expect at JOs.

      “I think I have told them it is really like a good first championship meet,” Frawley said. “Everyone is really friendly over here. It’s not really like extremely competitive but there is room to be competitive and to see those new state records and to definitely get first place is always our goal… just try hard out there, just enjoy the experience is what I tell everyone… just enjoy the ride because it is over before you know it…”

      Frawley said his first JOs were as a swimmer in Virginia and California.

      “It was a more competitive environment over there so no one was having as much fun, which is why I enjoyed this one so much more,” Frawley said. “Because everyone feels like ‘I know that guy, I know everyone in my entire heat. Let’s just enjoy this race and then go on to the next one and enjoy the one…’ and just everyone swim hard and swim fast.”

      GSC JO Combined Finishes Include:

      2019 - 2nd 3,055.50 (1st Aurora Swim Team 3,086); 2018 - 2nd with 3,013.50 pts (1st Northern Lights Swim Club 3,189); 2017 - 3rd with 2,400 (1st NLSC 3,708 / 2nd AST 3,239.50); 2016 - 3rd 1,021 (1st AST 3,178.50 / 2nd NLSC 1,546.50); 2015 - 2nd 2,859 (1st AST 4,559); 2014 - 5th 1,356 (1st AST 3,924 / 2nd NLSC 2,704 / 3rd Knik Aquatics 2,405.50 / 4th Kodiak Kingfishers Swim Team 1,904); 2013 - 2nd 1,832.50 (1st AST 2,104); 2012 - 2nd 3,221 (1st AST 3,792.50); 2011 - 3rd 2,747.50 (1st AST 4,708 / 2nd NLSC 2,921); 2006 - 3rd 2,473 (1st Alaska Pacific Swim Club 3,693.50 / 2nd NLSC 3,153); 2005 - 5th 1,249 (1st APSC 4,316.50 / 2nd NLSC 3,498.50 / 3rd Midnight Sun Swim Team 1,823 / 4th AST 1,493.50); 2004 - 4th 1,757 (1st NLSC 3,845 / 2nd APSC 3,409.50 / 3rd MSST 1,787.50); 2003 - 6th 1,383 (1st APSC 2,917 / 2nd NLSC 2,901.50 / 3rd AST 2,157 / 4th MSST 1,885 / 5th Viking Swim Club 1,781); 2002 - 4th 1,682 (1st NLSC 2,270.50 / 2nd AST 2,110.50 / 3rd APSC 1,850.50).

      In 2010 the GSC was part of Southeast Alaska Swim Team and placed 2nd with 3,840.50 (1st AST 4,663). The SAST won in 2008 with 2,354 (2nd AST 1,578) and 2007 with 4,019.50 (2nd Alaska Pacific Swim Club 3,097.50).

    Above - Glacier Swim Club members Chris Degener, Patrick Foy, Chaz VanSlyke, Tytan Frawley and Harrison Holt pose for a photo at Auke Recreation Picnic Area on Monday. The GSC will compete at the 2022 Alaska Swimming Junior Olympics in Anchorage's Bartlett High School poll, Thursday through Sunday. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

    GSC JO Commits

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