Contributed photo/Didi Abbas
The Dalles Swim Team has a full roster of youths ready to take on the competition this summer in a handful of meets, starting with the 16-team Ted Walker Invitational on Friday afternoon at North Wasco County Aquatics Center. In the photo are, in front row, from left to right, Skyler Coburn, Bradley Bowman, Dylan Phetteplace, Jase Perez, Cohen Donnell, Thatcher Dray, Maverick Varland, Kaiya Doty, Colin Webber, Austin Moody, Sam Ford, Danner Varland, Jarrett Thompson and Rosie Wilson. In the middle row are, from left, Carter Randall, Trace Larson, Rhett Loughmiller, Kaia Grasa, Salma Ladkani, Kiera Taylor, Sawyer Dray, Kyan McAllister, Raina McAllister, Kendall Webber, Lillian Dupuis, Rowan Bierwirth, Lindy Taylor and Lulu Grasa. In the back row are, from left, Head Coach Scott McKay, Maddy Stansbury, Scarlett Mendez, Logan Baumgarten, Annika Baumgarten, Maisie Bandel-Ramirez, Alex Rector, Logan Alvarez, Hannah Haight, Grace Haskins, Lydia DiGennaro, Kennedy Abbas, Kyra Paulus, Shantill Moody, Marin Alvarez, Bree Webber, Maddy Larson, Lydia Evans and Assistant Coach Allie Wood.
With a promising group of 70 swimmers, representing all levels, and the help of assistant coaches Andrew Clifford and Allie Wood, The Dalles swim team head coach Scott McKay has his team poised and ready to take on all comers this summer for an exciting swim slate.
This group gets its first chance to show their stuff at the 66th annual Ted Walker Invitational, running this Friday-through-Sunday at the North Wasco County Aquatics Center.
Hitting the pool against more than 300 swimmers in this 16-team event is a great way to get in some opening marks to improve upon during the four-meet schedule.
“There is tremendous potential in the team this year, from the beginning competitive swimmers, the Fishies, through the Bronze, Silver and up to the Gold squad,” McKay said. “But, it takes hard work to be successful in swimming and they need to see the possibilities in order to put in all the effort.”
Having a squad that varies in age is a good thing for the future, as McKay said his long-term goal is that each swimmer continues to improve their times, but also be prepared to be successful in high school swimming for The Dalles High School.
In addition to Wood and Clifford, Riverhawk varsity coach Shea MacNab will be around to help with the finer points of swimming and the technical aspects involved.
Swimmers with strength, endurance and good technique are ahead of the learning curve, and that gives the coaching staff a little edge in terms of the tutorial process, so they are not starting from the first phase, but much further.
“But, it still takes time and success isn’t accomplished in a season or often several seasons. So, that is why attitude is so important,” McKay said. “This season, we are also going to be working on the TDST Qualities of a Champion, such as persistence, focus, self-reliance, confidence, work ethic and courage. Because without those qualities, they won’t be able to reach their potential as a swimmer.”
Swimmers start every day at 6:30 a.m. for some laps in the 50-meter pool, which gives these athletes a chance to establish a good rhythm.
Coming off a state-qualifying run last winter on the relay team, Bree Webber is aiming to hammer home a more consistent technique to shave down times in her races, including her two favorites, the 50-and-100-yard freestyle events.
“I might be exhausted when I wake up in the morning to go to practice, but I’m never disappointed when I jump in the pool and feel the cool water surround me,” Webber said. “I’m always looking for ways to improve my strokes/technique, and Allie has always been willing to help. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
One element of swimming not lost on several athletes is the benefits of building strength and endurance ahead of other sports like volleyball, soccer, basketball and softball.
Kennedy Abbas loves being around her friends and is competing for top times in the freestyle and breastroke events, but she is using this summer sport to stay in peak shape as she prepares for what lies ahead in the fall, winter and spring months.
“I play softball and soccer, so swimming helps my arms be flexible and strong for pitching in softball,” Abbas said. “It’s also good for my legs. All that kicking in swimming helps me push forward in my pitch motion. My lungs and heart are in good shape from swimming by the time soccer rolls around too.”
As host to one of the oldest swim meets in Eastern Oregon and entertaining more than 300 swimmers and their families, McKay said that it is a collaborative effort to have everything run smoothly over the two-and-a-half-day event.
“The meet is not possible without all the voluntary help of the parents and the support of the community,” McKay said. “Many parents are committing their whole weekend to make the team possible. I also want to thank North Wasco County Parks and Recreation director Scott Baker for supporting the swim team, so we can continue to grow and so all the swimmers can have the opportunity to be successful.”
After this weekend, the swim team heads to Pendleton for a three-day meet starting on July 7.
The Dolphin Dive fundraiser is scheduled for July 13, and then the squad makes a trip to the John Day Meet, which runs from July 21-23.
The summer season ends with the three-day Bend Meet from Aug 11-13.