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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
The 10-and-under swimmers were the star of the show at Gateway Aquatic Center on Saturday morning, when the Ketchikan Killer Whales swim club hosted a virtual meet.
A virtual meet — also known as a postal meet — allows various swim clubs throughout the state to run their own versions at any point throughout the entire month of December. Any club can participate; the only requirement is that the club must be USA Swimming certified. Results are compiled and the kids will be ranked and receive awards in January.
“It’s not an unheard of thing,” Ketchikan coach Patrick Burda said last week. “It’s an opportunity for a lot of kids who don’t typically get to travel to a lot of meets swim against other teams.”
That gave enough reason for 19 Killer Whales and five Wrangell swim club members to push themselves during each event on Saturday. Wrangell was in town to use the Aquatic Center’s meet-certified pool.
Swim clubs in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Seward, Craig and Haines also will host the virtual meet. Ketchikan’s was the first.
“I like it,” Wrangell coach Jamie Roberts said. “I think it’s a really creative version of how to handle a meet.
“For us, this particular one worked out awesome,” she continued. “We got on the ferry (Friday) — we got here about 5 p.m. And were able to get dinner, get settled in, get up and swim our meet today. And then have the afternoon to have lunch and see a movie. And then get on the ferry at 10 a.m. (on Sunday). So there’s no middle of the night ferry. We have some free time to do a few things. I’ve never had a swim meet trip work out better, in terms of logistics of travel.”
With just the two teams participating, looking over at the next starting block and seeing a teammate was a familiar scene. But it was a comfortable one.
“It wasn’t weird,” Killer Whales’ swimmer Abby Elberson said. “I’m used to swimming alone when it’s just our team. And Wrangell was here. So it was just really fun.”
“They had a good time,” she said of her squad. “This is a different kind of meet than what they’ve gone to before. It was their very own meet—for 10-and-under. They didn’t have the deck full of older kids and the noise level wasn’t as loud as other meets.”
Each swimmer participated in several events within the two-and-a-half hour meet. And several times a swimmer would finish one event and jump back in the pool for the next one.
“I think that’s great for building mental toughness,” Roberts said. “Because at that point your body is tired, and you just have to tell yourself that you can do it and go for it. So it’s good for the physical health and the sports psychology aspect of it.”
Because of that, sprinting through the shorter events — like the 50-yard freestyle — was a favorite among the swimmers.
“It’s the quickest,” Killer Whales’ swimmer Aiden Eldridge said.
All in all, both Wrangell and Ketchikan had swimmers set personal bests throughout the event. Between the two clubs 36 individual records were set.
“(For) some of the kids, this was only their second swim meet ever,” Roberts said. “So it’s a nice, gentle entry into competitive swimming. This worked out great.”
*Ketchikan and Wrangell swim results will be in a forthcoming issue of the Daily News.