Alaska’s best swimmers shine on the big stage at ASAA state meet

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 6:08 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new state record, a dynasty continuing its legacy, and surprise placement highlighted the 2022 ASAA State Swim and Dive Championships over the weekend as Alaska’s swiftest swimmers competed for three days at the Bartlett Pool.

After 24 total events, the Service Cougar Boys ran away with the team title with 118 points — 67 points ahead of the runner-ups. Service made a splash in the relay events, claiming gold in the 200-yard medley (1 minute, 37.46 seconds) and the 400-yard freestyle (3:15.30), with individual victories from sophomore Benjamin Price in the 200-yard IM (1:55.43), junior Conrad Fawcett in the 500-yard freestyle (4:42.93) and senior William Kitchen in the 100-yard Backstroke (52.65).

The story out of Seward last year was, of course, Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby winning a pair of state titles, but this year, it was the group of just five Seahawk boys that won the program its first Region III title the week prior. As final standings were being announced Saturday in reverse order, disbelief washed over their faces as teams continued to be rattled off before Seward was placed in a tie for second overall with Eagle River at 51 points anchored by their 200 Yard Freestyle relay win at 1:28.64.

”Honestly, we felt kind of confused, we didn’t think we were going to place as high as we did. But we are really happy that we did, it is pretty cool,” freshman Iver Gates said.

”It means a lot, we are super happy to even have the opportunity to come out here and perform,” junior Nick Abrosiani said.

“It definitely is a confidence booster, because we have all put in years upon years of experience into this sport and to see it all add up to this point is amazing,” senior Jackson Bird said.

”I have to double check the math here, because it seems pretty far fetched. It doesn’t feel real yet, I don’t think it will feel real for a really long time,” Seward head coach Solomon D’Amico said.

“I couldn’t be happier for these guys, it has been eight years of work behind the scenes. They are a big part of a former swimmer of ours — she pretty well known — they were in the trenches with her day in and day out, so they are a part of her story as visa versa.”

That well-known swimmer is, of course, Jacoby.

On the girl’s side, the Dimond dynasty lives on. The Lynx tallied 86 points to edge out Colony (77) for their seventh straight state championship. The Maroon and Gold kicked off the state meet with a 200-yard medley relay victory in Event 1 (1:49.57) before wrapping it up with a relay win in the 400-yard freestyle in Event 23 (3:41.69), while seeing an individual victory from senior Isabelle Borke in the 50-yard freestyle (23.99).

In the Diving Championships, Wasilla’s Deshawn Campbell scored a 413 to claim the boy’s title, while senior Ally Hrncir set a Palmer High School record with a score of 425.55 to win the girl’s competition.

Carly Nelson, coming from the waters of Homer, won the girl’s Most Outstanding Competitor Award after victories in the 100-yard butterfly (57.18) and the 500-yard freestyle (5:11.47) — which is not common in the sport of swimming — to be the best in both a distance and sprint event.

”Normally they kind of cancel each other out in the training, but for me, we do a lot of distance work and aerobic stuff, which is good but kind of negatively affects my fly. We’re preparing going to a meet in Oregon in December, so I am on point to go best times at Oregon.”

Thunder Mountain’s P.J. Foy left little to debate for the boy’s Most Outstanding Competitor Award after his performance in the 100 Yard Butterfly. The junior clocked in at 48.46 seconds to set a new Alaska High School state record, breaking a 14-year-old record also set by someone from the state’s capital — Cody Brunette of Juneau-Douglas in 2008 at 49.19.

”I just wanted to swim and do my best, I don’t care about a title or anything,” Foy said. “I was scared because I was just sick, really sick, so I was worried about my taper but my teammates they really helped push me and help me do my best.

”It feels good to represent my team more specifically than my school, because I don’t know that a lot of people at my school know that I am here this week, so it is kind of funny. But they’ll know, it’s good.”

As a sophomore, Foy won individual state titles in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard breaststroke, so make that four state championships in four different events for the back-to-back Most Outstanding Competitor with one more year to rack up the accolades.