Park City swim team looks to raise young team quickly
The Park City High School swim team hosted its first home meet of the season at Ecker Hill Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 7. They competed against Corner Canyon, a 5A team with a big roster.
For the past five years the Park City girls swim team has won the 4A state championship, while the boys took second last season after winning four consecutive titles.
“This season is a little different than before,” said coach Mike Werner. “We graduated 17 seniors and those are really big fins to fill, so we had a lot of empty spaces in the pool and it takes some time to get everybody acclimated.”
He said more than half of the 45 swimmers are new to competition.
“It’s going to be a learning experience for the first couple months to see how they go, but we’re seeing some bright spots,” Werner said of the new recruits. “They are starting to get it; they are starting to click, but we have a long way to go in four months.”
Senior Elise Beller said she is excited about her new teammates.
“It’s fun,” she said. “Some of them have swam before, they are on club, so they know how to do it but other people this is their first time ever.”
There’s also a contingent of swimmers who are on the water polo team, which she said usually means they have a knack for swimming at some level. Werner said the team is running a kind of split practice, with different programming for different groups of swimmers – a first for his program.
“We want to teach them how to swim correctly, but they’re mainly in it for high school, so we’re focusing on shorter swims so that they can handle what they are doing in a high school type lineup,” Werner said.
He said the new swimmers will go through a lot of exercises in the 25-yard to 100-yard range, while the more experienced swimmers focus on distance.
“This way we feel like we are trying to cater for those kids who are just here for high school and not here for club, and giving them an opportunity to get up and go fast,” Werner said.
Despite the young team, Beller said the Miners still have big goals for this season, which runs until early February.
Personally, she is shooting for the 200 individual medley state record, set at 2:03.87 by Rachel Butler of Brighton in February. She is also shooting for a sub-5 minute time in the 500 free, which would put her in the top four in state records.
As for the team, it’s all about relays.
Beller said the Miners are aiming for Class 4A relay records, though for the past three seasons their relays have made the statewide top-10 leaderboard.
Last season, Beller, Katie Hale, Jessi Beyer and Helena Djunic set the eighth-fastest recorded time for the 200-yard medley relay in the state with a time of 1:49.05.
The season before that, Joelle Hess and Rozie Selznick, Beller and Hale set the eighth-best 400-yard freestyle relay in Utah high school history with a 3:34.82.
In 2016, the team put up what is now the fourth-fastest 200-yard freestyle relay of all time, when Siena Senn, Selznick, Hale, Beller finished with a time of 1:38.18.
Beller said this year she the Miners are hoping to drop time from at least one of those records.
Beller, along with senior girls swimmer Emma Strong-Conklin and junior boys swimmer Jack Troxel, are this year’s team leaders.
Troxel took first in the boys 200-yard freestyle on Wednesday with a time of 1:51.01.
Fischer Caplin, 15, took first in the boys 200 individual medley.
Lauren Pederson, 16, took first in the girls 50 freestyle.
The girls 200-yard freestyle relay team took first, with Beller, Pederson, Strong-Conklin and Helena Djunic finishing in 1:44.86.
Beller also took first in the girls 200 individual medley with a time of 2:12.01 and the 100 back stroke with a time of 1:05.18.
Nicholas Obradovish, 15, took first in the boys 100 backstroke.
Daniela Cartwright, 15, took first in the 100 breast stroke with a time of 1:14.28.
“That’s her lifetime best by far,” Werner said. “She’s been a good breaststroker, and we were hoping that she was going to be able to throw something down, so that was a fun swim.”
Helena Djunic, 15, took first in the girls 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:58.72; first in the 100 fly (1:08.74).
Djunic was part of two winning relay teams at the 2018 Class 4A state finals and took first in the 100-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle. She also won Swimmer of the Meet – almost unheard of for a freshman.
“We’re going to swim her all over a little bit and keep it a surprise for later and see how it goes,” Werner said following the performance. “She’s just going to help pull everybody else.”
He said that, most importantly, Djunic loves to race.
“That’s what you want,” he said. “Doesn’t matter how old they are, doesn’t matter what year they are, we want people to want to be racers. When people come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I’m swimming,’ that’s nice, I’m not going to watch. If you want to race, I’m going to watch.”
Next, the team will travel out of state to Boise, Idaho for the Boise Y Invitational on Nov. 16.
For a complete list of results go to parkcityswim.net.
The lift, called Over and Out, will pick up guests near the base of the Tombstone Express lift and drop them off near the top of Sunrise lift, allowing skiers to more easily descend into Canyons Village.