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Killer Whales hit the mark in Juneau
The Ketchikan Killer Whales’ Catalina Heitheker, front, Claire Ruaro, center, and Parker Hagan enjoy time in the pool during their first swim meet. The Southeast Championships in Juneau was the trio’s first swim meet, and all three hit personal bests. Photo courtesy of Patrick Burda

Daily News Sports Editor

Claire Ruaro couldn’t have been happier.

In her very first swim meet, at the Savannah Cayce Southeast Championships in Juneau, the 8-year-old Ketchikan Killer Whales’ swimmer made quite the impression on the rest of her competition. She won first place in all six of her 8-and-under events. And she brought home the high-point award for her age group.

Her smile couldn’t have been bigger.

“She slept with the trophy that night; during the open swim, she swam with the trophy,” Killer Whales coach Patrick Burda said. “She had it in her hands at the airport when we flew back. And she brought it to practice (on Tuesday) to show everybody. Needless to say, she was very proud of herself. That’s a great thing to see.”

Ruaro, along with Evan Dash, Trevor Dash, Parker Hagan and Catalina Heithecker, represented the Killer Whales at the event in Juneau from April 5-7. In total, nearly 170 swimmers from Southeast Alaska participated. Swim clubs from Wrangell, Craig, Petersburg, Sitka, Haines and Juneau also were there.

All five Killer Whales hit personal bests, and were in the running for the high-point award in their age groups.

“Parker finished fifth in the high point awards, overall,” Burda said. “Trevor finished second for 11-12-year-old boys high point. Evan finished third 11-12-year-old boys high point. … They left with a positive experience. They all earned awards; they all improved. They had fun, which is the most important thing.”

Along with it being Ruaro’s first swim meet, it also was the first time Heithecker and Hagan had traveled for a swim meet.

“(I liked) swimming in a different pool,” Hagan said. “I didn’t know (anyone, and) I got to know people.”

Both Hagan and Ruaro swam the 500-freestyle for the first time. They had done it during the Killer Whales’ time trials, but not during a swim meet.

“(That was) a pretty big deal,” Burda said. “And obviously, they were both nervous. But they both made it through just fine. … It’s something they’ve done before. It’s not easy, but it’s less intimidating. And they knew they could do it.”

In addition to the duo, Heithecker also knocked off double digits in her 25-yard breaststroke and 100-yard IM.

The 7-year-old finished the breaststroke event in 35.39 seconds — a 12.94 difference from her previous time. And she shed 15.40 seconds off her 100-yard IM time, finishing in 2:06.52.

Trimming time on the longer events was a theme throughout the Killer Whales’ time in the pool. The Dash brothers, Evan and Trevor, both swam in the mile. And Trevor Dash shaved off more than 30 seconds from his previous time, finishing in 20.15.98.

It was Evan Dash’s first time swimming it.

“It’s not offered very much,” Burda said. “We try to swim a mile or 1,000-yard every month in our time trials, to get the kids an opportunity to do it. I think the more exposure they do them, the less scared they’re going to be to do that stuff.”

Trevor Dash also broke two KKW team records, in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events.

“He already had the 200, and he lowered it,” Burda said. “He’s a numbers guy. He knows what he’s shooting for, and he knows his times.”

Trevor Dash’s previous record was 2:25.40 in the 200-yard backstroke. He finished this weekend’s event in 2:23.58.

In all, 28 personal bests were hit by the Killer Whales. The open qualifier event allowed each participant room to improve.

“I think it was a good weekend, overall,” Burda said. “It’s really neat to see the kids have fun like that, and be excited about the sport.”

Here are the Ketchikan Killer Whales’ results:

Evan Dash, 11 years old

100-yard breaststroke, 1:26.14*; 1,650-yard freestyle, 22:29.43; 200-yard breaststroke, 3:02.28*; 200-yard freestyle; 2:24.66*; 400-yard IM, 5:32.68*; 50-yard backstroke, 34.41*; 50-yard breaststroke, 38.63*; 50-yard freestyle, 31.27*.

Trevor Dash, 12 years old

100-yard backstroke, 1:05.20*, 1,650-yard freestyle, 20:15.98*; 200-yard backstroke, 2:23.58*; 200-yard breaststroke, 2:37.95; 200-yard butterfly, 2:22.11*; 200-yard IM, 2:21.21; 400-yard IM, 4:56.95; 500-yard freestyle, 5:47.12; Open 100-yard IM, 1:05.25.

Parker Hagan, 9 years old

100-yard breaststroke, 2:00.65*; 200-yard IM, 3:34.77*; 500-yard freestyle, 8:24.47; 100-yard freestyle, 1:22.69*; 100-yard IM, 1:37.57*; 50-yard backstroke, 45.80*; 50-yard freestyle, 35.63*; Open 50-yard butterfly, 47.41*.

Catalina Heithecker, 7 years old

25-yard backstroke, 24.75*; 25-yard breaststroke, 35.39*; 25-yard freestyle, 22.96*; Open 100-yard IM, 2:06.52*; Open 50-yard backstroke, 51.12*.

Claire Ruaro, 8 years old

200-yard IM, 3:48.87*; 500-yard freestyle, 8:42.09; 100-yard freestyle, 1:31.27*; 100-yard IM, 1:47.08; 25-yard breaststroke, 29.17; 25-yard butterfly, 24.56; 50-yard butterfly, 54.38*; 50-yard freestyle, 40.11; Open 50-yard butterfly, 53.94*.

*Denotes a personal best.