Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Swimmers, divers head to State

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News


Photo by Angelina Skowronski

Jasmine Lewis, Sophie Ogle, Lindsay Seneff, Garrett Hall, Kaec Brinster and Brian Rowe, from left to right. Bottom: Assistant Coach Gwenn Gee and Harmon Hall.

Swim fast, polished dives — that's been the motto of the Homer swim and dive team since Day One of the season. Long distances traveled for meets, stresses endured by juggling school and practice, and the smell of chlorine on their skin have not stopped the Mariner swimmers and divers from doing just that.

Last weekend in Palmer, Homer showed what it is to be at the top of the game at the Regions III meet. Both boys and girls swim teams took second with a number of record-breaking times.

The dive team swept up the competition with Homer High taking gold, silver and bronze places for the boys and silver and bronze places for the girls division.

"Every kid that went to Regions really stepped up to the plate and I am very proud of all of them," said Head Swim Coach Anna Borland-Ivy.

The Region III meet was anything but friendly. With the top qualifiers continuing onto State this weekend, the intensity was high and the competition was fierce.

To show how tight it was, in the 200 freestyle, Mariner Marie Schmidt took third place, just one second behind a Kenai swimmer and .5 seconds in front of a Soldotna swimmer.

Schmidt later placed fourth in the 500 freestyle, missing third place by .5 seconds, and with a time that would have placed her first or second in the other three regional meets in the state.

Dana Olesch blasted the field in the 100 butterfly, almost two seconds in front of the second place swimmer, earning an instant place at the State meet.

The girls 400 freestyle relay wrapped up the day with a fourth place win and a season best time along with personal bests for all four relay swimmers, Dana Olesch and the Schmidt triplets — Emily, Katie, and Marie. This was the final event that all three sisters would swim together at a high school meet.

In a slim match, the Mariner boys took first in the 100 medley relay. The relay, with Kyle Wentz (backstroke), Richard Ginter (butterfly), James Reid (breaststroke) and Nathanael Hardy (freestyle), touched out Soldotna by .8 of a second to win the relay, and break two records; the Homer High record and the existing Region III record.

The boys placed first in the 200 freestyle relay, one second ahead of Kodiak, and graced the Region record one second short.

"The boys have been preparing themselves for over a year to break these records," said Borland-Ivy.

The boys 50 freestyle was another close event. Richard Ginter took first, also breaking the existing Homer High record. Nathanael Hardy took second place in the same event, surprising his competition from an outside lane and his fifth place preliminary slot.

Ginter smoked his contenders in the 100 butterfly with a full eight seconds ahead of second and third place finishers, one of whom was fellow Mariner James Nagle in third. His time of 51.98 seconds smashed the Homer High record and also made Ginter ninth on the Alaska State High School Swimming All-Time Top 12 List.

Kyle Wentz placed third in the 100 freestyle, in another second-splitting race; four of the six finalists were within one second of each other.

This weekend's final showdown at State will be the team's true test of the season and, for a few, a test of their high school swimming careers.

"There are going to be five relay teams that are going to give the boys a run for their money. They are number one in the region, but State is a different situation," said Borland-Ivy.

Six Mariner divers head

to State — a Homer first

In a feat not done before, Dive Coach Harmon Hall will be taking six divers to state. "No school has ever taken eight kids to Regions, and now I am taking six kids to State," said Hall.

Training his divers for the 11 dive meets has been tough for Hall, but the wins at Regions show his efforts paid off. The Mariner divers raked in the winnings. Garrett Hall, Brian Rowe and Kaec Brinster took the top three places, respectively. Lindsey Seneff, Jasmine Lewis and Sophie Ogle finished up the girls' diving in second, third, and sixth places, respectively.

"Katherine (Dolma) did not make it to State, but she is just a sophomore and has time to improve. Ben (Westphal) will be the alternate at State and even if he doesn't go, he, too, has time," said Hall.


Photo by Angelina Skowronski

From left to right, back, boys: James Reed, Kyle Wentz, Nathanael Hardy, Richard Ginter. Girls, front: Dana Olesch and Marie Schmidt.

Ogle's security at State is a comeback, according to Hall. She began diving in her freshman year, but studied abroad and missed two seasons on the team. In her senior year, Ogle placed at Regions and is now going to State.

This week, Hall has been training his six state-bound divers on their 11 dives. Hall and his assistant, Gwenn Gee, have been recording each diver on their iPads and then reviewing it with the divers for critiques.

"There is this app called Baseball that draws lines on the video so you can see the angles the divers are making when entering the water," said Hall.

Hall attributes his team's successes in Palmer to the new technology's advantages.

"It was important to watch the video right after the kids got out of the water so it was fresh in their minds. I had taken video before, never to this extent," said Hall.

Hall and Gee have a lot on their plate as they perfect six divers, essentially 66 dives, for State.

Hall said, "You never know what will happen at State. Even the best don't always have the best dives."

The Mariners squad of 12 in blue and gold suits will continue on to Bartlett this weekend for the State Championship meet.

Swimmers/divers Continuing To State:

Marie Schmidt — 200 and 500 freestyles;

Dana Olesch —100 butterfly and 100 backstroke;

Lindsey Seneff, Jasmine Lewis and Sophie Ogle — girls diving;

Garrett Hall, Brian Rowe and Kaec Brinster — boys diving;

Richard Ginter, Nathanael Hardy, James Reid, and Kyle Wentz — 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays;

Richard Ginter — 100 butterfly and the 50 freestyle;

Nathanael Hardy — 50 freestyle and 100 breast;

James Reid — 200 Individual medley and 100 breaststroke;

Kyle Wentz — 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

See Results page