Park City captains set standards in the pool |

Park City captains set standards in the pool

4 seniors lead by example

Park City senior Reef Yoked has wanted to be a team captain since he was mentored as a freshman. Now, along with fellow seniors Barrett Petty, Abby Dietrichson and Calla Troxel, he’s helping to set the standard for Park City’s swimming program. 

“They’ve all stepped up,” said Park City coach Gadi Shamah, who is in his first season coaching the high-school program. “It’s been huge to watch and watch them grow as young adults coming up. They’ve made a huge impact on the other swimmers. Not only managing some small issues, but also making sure the team bonding is there and the kids are feeling part of the team. Also, just helping me transition and making sure everything is covered.”

Shamah is Park City’s third swimming coach in as many years, but having a strong group of captains has helped stabilize the program despite the coaching changes.

“They’ve seen a lot of changes, but they’ve definitely been consistent for us,” Shamah said. “They stepped up, not only to do fun activities and keep the team together, but also to just build a great team that is serious about swimming and wants to do better.”

Park City hosted a meet on Saturday at the Park City Aquatic Center and swam against a pair of Class 6A schools in Pleasant Grove and Bingham. Both Park City teams came out on top in a day full of fast swims for the Miners, including from their captains. 

Yoked started the morning by helping his 200-yard medley relay team take first place, and he had another strong swim in the 100 breaststroke. Yoked dominated from start to finish, clocking in at 1:04.8 and winning by over four seconds. 

“That’s been my baby,” Yoked said. “I’ve been swimming that event since I’ve been swimming club for 10 years now. It felt great. I was very happy with how it felt technically. Time was a little bit slow for maybe my best, but it was great.”

Yoked described himself as an introvert, the kind of person who kept more to himself. But now, he finds himself talking to the younger kids in the program more and wants the pool to be a place where everyone is excited to be and improve. 

“I think it’s big for me,” Yoked said. “I’m happier than I have been, and this senior year has been a blast. I couldn’t imagine it going any better.”

Reef Yoked competes in the 100-yard breaststroke event during Saturday’s meet. Yoked took first place.
David Jackson/Park Record

Dietrichson also had a successful day in the pool for the Miners. She had a pair of second-place finishes individually in the 200 free and the 100 breaststroke and helped the Miners win a couple of relay races.

“My performances were OK, not the greatest, but not the worst,” she said. “But truly, I like having fun with the team. And if the team’s doing good, I think we’re doing good as a whole.”

Like Yoked, Dietrichson’s positive experiences as a younger swimmer made her always want to be a team captain. Based on what she’s seen from the younger swimmers, she feels she’s helped promote a positive atmosphere.

“I think a lot of people are enjoying practice, and I think that makes me happy,” Dietrichson said. “That’s what makes my senior year impactful is seeing the other kids, younger, be so happy. When I was younger, I was so happy with the seniors, and that’s what I want to be is the senior that they could look up to.”

Balancing the individual and team aspects in high school swimming can be tricky, especially for the team captains. It’s simultaneously a team sport and an individual sport, so it’s a difficult dynamic.

“When you’re up on that block, it’s you swimming, but everyone around you is going to be supporting you,” Dietrichson said. “You’ll have that individual aspect, but you’ll also have the team there to cheer you on. You can’t blame yourself on anyone else. If you don’t do your best, it’s partially you, but the team will support you throughout the way.”

Dietrichson hopes the team can keep the energy up as it heads into the final few weeks of the season. The state championships are set for Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at BYU. 

“Times will come and go throughout your entire season,” Dietrichson said. “If you’re making the most of it, though, that’s what I think really matters. If you’re having fun and supporting your team, that’s what I’m looking forward to is seeing how we support each other at those big meets, region and state. Just finish off strong with my team. That’s all I want.”

Troxel already has her future set, as she signed to play college water polo in November. Though she’s missed some time with water polo commitments, she’s enjoyed working with her fellow captains.

“Me and the other three captains get along really well,” Troxel said. “We don’t clash in any way. We kind of all have our own roles. We’re positive and we keep the team upbeat and we’re all pretty upbeat, which also helps with motivating other swimmers. We just work really well together.”

Troxel aims to qualify for the state championship meet to cap off her high-school swimming career. She made it last year; this time, she’d do it as a captain.

“I think it’d be really cool for me as a captain to make state and to be able to motivate my other swimmers,” she said. “State is a super fun meet, and it’d be really fun to be there and help other swimmers and motivate everyone else and swim with my other captains there.”

Petty also sees himself as more of a water polo player than a swimmer, using the latter sport to help stay in shape for the former. But he’s grown to enjoy swimming, too.

“I’ve become more fond of swimming,” he said. “It’s fun with the teammates, and the meets are fun cheering on each other.”

Along with swimming his individual events and the 400 freestyle relay, Petty helped his 200 freestyle relay team take first place on Saturday.

“The relays went well,” Petty said. “(The) 200 free is nice and short, 400 free can be brutal because it’s right at the end. But we all pushed through. Everyone did their part, and we did great.”

Between the strong swims the Miners had on Saturday and the team dynamics that supported them, it was a successful morning in the pool. The captains played a significant role in that.

“Those guys are always going fast and getting the relays and making sure we’re scoring points. It was nice to get another couple of wins for both the girls and boys this weekend,” Shamah said. “All that is just fantastic. And they’re always stepping up for big swims. They also make sure all of the events are filled and swimming events to make sure we’re scoring points and not just swimming events they like to swim. That’s huge.”

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