Six local swimmers were in Fairbanks last week for the three-day Alaska Swimming Age Group Championship.
Held at the Hamme Swimming Pool, organized by Northern Area Aquatics and sanctioned by USA Swimming and Alaska Swimming, the event included swimmers from Kodiak, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, several Anchorage and Southeast teams, Chugiak, Wasilla, King Salmon and Fairbanks, in addition to Homer.
“(There were) 380-something kids at the pool,” said Rebecca Hardy, coach for the Kachemak Swim Club. “All the way to Fairbanks and back was a big trip, and daunting, but it was really fun.”
The event was open to all Alaska swimmers age 14 and younger on the first day of meet who met or exceeded qualifying time standards by a Jan. 1 deadline.
Representing KSC were: Piper Kassouni, age 10; Ella Blaunton-Yourkowski, 10; Madison Story, 10; Theodore Castellani, 12; Griffen Downy, 13; and Aurora Shadle, 14. Clayton Arndt also qualified, but was unable to swim due to a fractured wrist.
“The swimmers from KSC brought a lot of skill, tenacity, passion and competitiveness into the water at Hamme Pool in Fairbanks,” said Hardy. “Every swimmer achieved best times over the three days by significant margins. It was so very exciting to see them swim so fast and furious.”
In spite of the tough competition, Hardy praised the KSC swimmers for drawing upon the skills they had worked on during practices and accomplishing swims exceeding their expectations.
“Several swimmers achieved Junior Olympic qualifying times, so they have another championship meet on their horizon,” said Hardy.
In addition to the opportunity to compete against swimmers from around the state, the meet offered a special bonus: meeting three-time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce. Having competed in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games, Joyce has four silver medals, in addition to one gold, one silver and one bronze world medal.
“She was very, very nice,” said Hardy. “She’s really patient with the kids, no matter what they asked her.”
In addition to answering questions and complying with requests for her autograph on everything from event passes to bare shoulders, Joyce also awarded medals, which was a special treat for KSC swimmer Castellani.
“He took a silver medal and had it put around his neck by an actual Olympian,” said Hardy. “That was very cool.”
More area swimmers will have an opportunity to meet and work with Joyce this summer when she participates in the club’s swim camp here in Homer in July.
“It’s a two-day thing and we’re very excited,” said Hardy. “There’ll be dry land stuff when she’ll talk to the kids, and then she’ll teach swimming..”
Next up for the Kachemak Swim Club is “March Madness,” March 21-22.
“We’re looking for as many (swimmers) as we can,” said Hardy of the non-qualifying event for all ages.
For more about Kachemak Swim Club, visit kachemakswim.org.
For more about Alaska Swimming, visit akswimming.org.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinskyA@homernews.com.
Alaska Swimming Age Group Championship.
Hamme Swimming Pool – Fairbanks, Alaska
Homer Results (event: place. name, time)
Female 50 Back, age 10 and under (final): 7. Madison Story, 38.25 yards; 13. Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, 40.88; 21. Piper Kassouni, 44.34
Female 200 back, age 14 (preliminary):17. Aurora Shadle, 2:48.19 yards
Male 200 back, age 12 (preliminary): 2. Theodore Castellani, 2:49.49 yards
Male 200 back, age 12 (final): 2. Theodore Castellani, 2:43.43 yards
Female 100 free, age 10 and under (final): 11. Madison Story, 1:16.75 yards; 16. Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, 1:23.36; 20. Piper Kassouni, 1:25.04 yards
Female 100 free, age 14 (preliminary): 27. Aurora Shadle, 1:09.13 yards
Male 100 free, age 13 (preliminary): 8. Griffin Downey, 1:01.85 yards
Female 100 IM, age 10 and under (final): 6. Madison Story, 1:24.04 yards
Male 100 IM, age 12 (preliminary): 12. Theodore Castellani, 1:22.32 yards
Female 200 IM, age 10 and under (final): 7. Madison Story, 3:06.02 yards
Female 200 IM, age 14 (preliminary): 22. Aurora Shadle, 2:50.61 yards
Male 200 IM, age 12 (preliminary): 7. Theodore Castellani, 2:51.30 yards
Male 200 IM, age 13 (preliminary): No place noted, Griffin Downey, 2:34.02 yards
Female 50 free, are 10 and under (final): 12. Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, 34.33 yards; 33. Piper Kassouni, 38.06
Female 50 free, age 14 (preliminary): 14. Aurora Shadle, 29.09 yards
Male 50 free, age 12 (preliminary): 16. Theodore Castellani, 33.47 yards
Male 50 free, age 13 (preliminary): 10. Griffin Downey, 28.26 yards
Female 100 breast, age 10 and under (final): 5. Madison Story, 1:32.62 yards
Male 200 breast, age 13 (preliminary): 7. Griffin Downey, 2:53.25 yards
Female 200 free, age 10 and under (final): 18. Piper Kassouni, 3:10.30 yards
Male 200 free, age 12 (preliminary): 11. Theodore Castellani, 2:32.22 yards
Male 200 free, age 13 (preliminary): 12. Griffin Downey, 2:20.12 yards
Female 50 breast, age 10 and under (final): 6. Madison Story, 43.58 yards; 21. Piper Kassouni, 49.22 yards
Male 100 breast, age 13 (preliminary): 3. Griffin Downey, 1:15.49 yards
Male 100 breast, age 13 (final): 4. Griffin Downey, 1:15.36 yards
Male 50 fly, age 12 (preliminary): 7. Theodore Castellani, 38.25 yards
Female 100 back, age 10 and under (final): 6. Madison Story, 1:24.36 yards; 11 Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, 1:27.62; 20. Piper Kassouni, 1:41.56
Female 100 back, age 14 (preliminary): 15. Aurora Shadle, 1:14.00 yards
Male 100 back, age 12 (preliminary): 9. Theodore Casetellani, 1:20.23 yards
Male 100 back, age 13 (preliminary): 10. Griffin Downey, 1:15.96 yards