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Killer Whales compete in California
From left to right, Killer Whales swim club members Tyler Merle, Kyan Klinger, Emma Campbell and Ava Elerding soak up some sun at an outdoor pool in Sacramento, California. The foursome competed in a swim meet in California’s capital this weekend. Photo by Patrick Burda


Daily News Sports Editor

Four members of the Ketchikan Killer Whales swim club skipped town this weekend. Emma Campbell, Ava Elerding, Kyan Klinger and Tyler Merle traveled to the Lower 48 to compete in the Aqua Sol Invite in Sacramento, California on Saturday and Sunday. And head coach Patrick Burda couldn’t be more pleased with how his foursome performed.

“They had a positive attitude throughout the week,” he said. “They did perform well; they had fun. And those are all key things.”

Burda said that the age 13-and-over only invite was an opportunity for the four to race against faster swimmers than they typically see in a state-sponsored school meet. The Aqua Sol Invite had six teams. And the Killer Whales were the only club outside of Sacramento participating.

“It was an average meet for (the other teams there),” Burda said. “It was a fast meet. The top swims were very quick. It was good for the the kids to see those swims. But it wasn’t a meet that was a big deal for anybody. It was just a (regular) meet, so there wasn’t any pressure to perform, at all.”

Elerding, Campbell, Merle and Klinger participated in six events — three each day — and all four swam with the middle of the pack. Both Klinger and Campbell advanced to the finals.

“I think all of them saw some time drops,” Burda said. “They had fast first, second and third places in most events. And, at the bottom of the events, (times) were pretty modest. (Our) kids definitely fit in the middle.”

Merle competed in the 50-yard, 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle events, as well as the 200-yard IM, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke. He narrowly missed the finals in the backstroke event.

“It went super well,” Merle said of the meet. “Just seeing the level of competition was really fun to see. It was nice to see where we stacked up against the competition because we don’t really get to see anything outside of Alaska.”

For Merle, Klinger and Campbell, who also compete with Ketchikan High School’s swim and dive team, this was their fourth consecutive weekend racing.

“My times weren’t as good as where I’d want them to be,” Campbell said. “But taking into consideration all the other racing we’ve been doing, it (was good).”

Campbell’s forte are the longer events. In addition to three 200-yard events, she swam the 400-yard IM, 500-yard freestyle and 1,000-yard freestyle.

“They’re fun races,” she said. “I definitely enjoy those more. It gives me more of an opportunity to be able to race people, whereas sprints, you just get up and go.”

In addition to the swim meet, Burda and the Killer Whales were able to soak up some sun at the outdoor pool, and take in the sights and sounds of Sacramento — including their first trip to an In-N-Out Burger joint.

“I think the experience, in general, was positive for them,” he said. “Whether it was getting time drops, or getting out of the city and having a new experience.”

And the experience was definitely a confidence boost for them moving forward.

“Going into our region (meet) and our home meet, we have a different perspective on where we are in competitions,” Merle said. “It’s nice.”