Story last updated at 4:06 p.m. Thursday, October 24, 2002

HHS swimmers savor view from land's end
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

Despite their successes, sometimes the Homer High School swimmers get a little forlorn down at the end of the road. The team faces a lot of travel and not enough home meets.

But, according to coach Bridget Kuhns, that all got put into perspective last weekend when the Mariners swam in Kodiak, sweeping a pair of dual meets against the Bears.

"They really have a lot of respect for the Kodiak teams," Kuhns said.

Far from the mainland road system, Kodiak swims in Region III but only plays host to two teams at its pool during the course of the season. Meanwhile, Homer brings in three home meets, two of which are full-fledged invitationals with teams from all over the peninsula and beyond. Another three meets simply take the Mariners up the road to Kenai or Soldotna, a hop, skip and a jump by Alaska standards.

"They see how tough it is for those guys (in Kodiak)," Kuhns added. "They really like swimming against them. They've definitely bonded."

That bonding was taken to the extreme during the 4x100-yard freestyle relay, with Kodiak edging the Mariners B relay squad by less than half a second. Kodiak finished at 3 minutes, 36.28 seconds, while the Mariners came in at 3:36.62.

In addition to an improved outlook, the Mariners returned from the island in the gulf with a number of strong individual times in the bag as well, Kuhns said.

Among the individual highlights, Andrew Vait posted a season best in winning the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.77, a mark that cracked the state's top 10 fastest times for the season. Vait also took second in the 100 butterfly, a personal best at 1:01.02.

Travis Riley also had an outstanding race in the 100 butterfly, posting a personal best with a 1:03.01, good for third.

"He contributes to the team in a larger way than he realizes," Kuhns said of Riley. "You won't find a guy that'll go to the wall any harder than Travis Riley."

Freshman Deanne Andree won the 100 fly, posting a 1:07.02, a time that is a personal best and close to a state qualifier, Kuhns said. Andree also showed her power in the 100 breast, winning with a time of 1:16.2.

In team scores, the girls won Friday's meet with 95 points to Kodiak's 70, while on Saturday the Mariner girls won 103-60. On the boys side, Homer posted a 108-72 win on Friday and bested Kodiak 96-83 on Saturday.

For now the atmosphere is intense, Kuhns said, as the team is focused on Saturday's Homer Borough Meet, a prelude to regions the following weekend.

It marks the final home meet for the Mariner seniors, and Kuhns predicted an emotional day.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homer