Submitted by Orcas Swim Team
San Juan Island’s Orcas Swim Team hosted a group of swimmers from the Thunderbird Aquatic Team of Anacortes on Saturday, Feb. 16, during the home club’s last meet of the season. More than 50 swimmers, ranging in ages from 6–13, participated in the event.
“The primary purpose [of the meet] was to give the kids some exposure and experience swimming against others clubs,” Tim Collins, the Orcas Swim Team head coach for seven years, said.
The local club hosts “friendly meets,” as Collins called them, and scores are not kept.
“The main thing we focus on is swimmers achieving their personal best times,” he said.
Breakout athletes from the meet included 12-year-old Elian Bayas in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:08.09; 9-year-old Parker Aylward in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 49.37; 9-year-old Lexi Gummerman in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 51.13; 10-year-old Chelci Pitman in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 51.13; 8-year-old Sabine Bayas in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:05.66; 7-year-old Olsen Schoultz in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:15.21; 10-year-old Grayson Matthews in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 52.15; and 10-year old Macy Muir in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 38.75.
Athletes in the meet could swim 50 yards in three of the following races: the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke or freestyle. Those 10 and older could also compete in one of two additional races: 100 yards in the freestyle or a medley of the four strokes for 50 yards each. Collins said about four swimmers opted to race in the maximum of four events.
The Orcas faced swimmers from the Skagit Valley Family YMCA in December and held a home practice in January when the Whatcom County team couldn’t make it to a San Juan meet.
To Collins, the season was a success “due to the large turnout of new swimmers on the team and the support from the community,” he said.
The Orcas Swim Team is divided into three groups, from beginners to advanced, which are based on both swimmers’ ages and skill level, and named after the pods that the local Southern resident orcas live in: J, K and L. Swimmers practice and compete at San Juan Island Fitness, located on Argyle Avenue, and the other team coaches are Carleen Balcomb-Bartok, Claire Wright and Susan Williamson.
Unlike most swim clubs, the island’s team is not affiliated with a nationally recognized program. This causes difficulties when locating local clubs to compete against, as the meets will not be included in the other teams’ official scores. Next year, Collins said the Orcas Swim Team will look into making the club an affiliate of USA Swimming, which would not require a year-round program, but could guarantee more meets during the season.