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Swim & dive in Sitka
Ketchikan High School senior Xavier de Liederkerke practices breast stroke on Wednesday at the Gateway Recreation Center. Staff photo by Taylor Balkom

Daily News Sports Editor

It has almost been a month since the last time the Ketchikan High School swim and dive team saw organized competition.

This weekend in Sitka, Kayhi will finally get the chance to show off what it has been preparing for ever since it last competed in mid-September.

The team decided to not participate in its previously scheduled meet in Petersburg due to a water issue creating what Kayhi felt were unsafe conditions in the Petersburg High School pool.

On Wednesday, Kayhi’s head coach Patrick Burda said that his team has been staying the course despite no competition a week ago. Beginning next week, the team will no longer practice on weekday mornings while continuing its afternoon workouts.

“Resting and tapering for our focus meets is a pretty involved process,” Burda said. “Any good taper is going to be at least two or three weeks long.”

Burda said the process of building up and breaking down ideally should last about five or six months, but with the noticeably shorter Southeast swim and dive season, his swimmers try their hardest with what they’ve been given.

Individuals who swim all year typically see the best results when the time comes in the season to start tapering the overall workload.

“Your body is most broken down when you get to the point where you’re resting and allowing your body to rebuild itself,” Burda said.

Burda described the process as being more specific on the task at hand but simply doing less of it as the days go on and the final competitions of the season approach.

With the intensity and frequency of the work done in daily practice beginning to slow down, some of the swimmers say they feel just fine and are excited to compete in Sitka.

Swimmer Tyler Merle said he and his teammates were a little upset that they were not able to make the trip to Petersburg.

“I think we were all disappointed because we didn’t get to really show what we did at practice,” Merle said.

Merle’s teammate Xavier de Liederkerke — an exchange student from Belgium — said that he has loved the opportunity he’s had this season to compete on a team, even if it’s so far away from home.

Upon his arrival in the United States, de Liederkerke said he was surprised by the intensity level of the local high school competitors, saying there are fewer school-based athletic programs in his native Belgium; kids who want to swim have to pay and join a club team.

“In the beginning, I was just doing what everybody else was doing because I couldn’t understand anything,” he said. “It’s so amazing how you improve so fast.”

The Kings last competed on Sept. 15-16 in what was their sole home meet of the 2017 season.

The Region V swim meet will be held in Juneau two weeks after this weekend’s event in Sitka, with the state swimming championships to follow a week later on Nov. 3-4 in Anchorage.

The team is scheduled to depart from Ketchikan on Thursday evening.