Sports

Small Eagles squad setting sights high

Klahowya swimmer Serenity Jenson, shown here swimming in the 200-yard individual medley on Thurday against Port Angeles, later won the breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 27.41 seconds. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Klahowya swimmer Serenity Jenson, shown here swimming in the 200-yard individual medley on Thurday against Port Angeles, later won the breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 27.41 seconds.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

It’s been an interesting year to be a member of the Klahowya girls swim team.

After last season, longtime coach Carol Tyree-Dewell announced she was retiring from the sport. But after the school’s search for a new coach came up short as the season began, Tyree-Dewell, a fixture at the school since it opened in 1998, agreed to return and fill the position until a new coach was found.

“Knowing I was gonna be tired, it was actually quite fun,” Tyree-Dewell said. “At least that way they have a team. I enjoy it. It’s a nice group of girls.”

That search came to an end about two weeks ago, as Klahowya hired former Olympic High School swimmer and current KSS teacher Diana Smith.

“It’s been fun,” Smith said of taking on the team midseason. “I’m just trying to figure out everything, get everything organized.”

Thursday’s meet against Port Angeles was just the team’s second with Smith at the helm, but already, Smith said she’s establishing a rhythm with the squad.

“This meet feels a lot better,” she said. “I have more knowledge of where we’re at as far as abilities.”

While Klahowya is once again one of the smaller teams in the county, with just seven swimmers, Smith is optimistic her group can still make some big splashes.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the girls better,” she said. “And just seeing what they can do, whether it’s districts or state.”

Klahowya returned three swimmers from a year ago in Elexis Metzger, Serenity Jenson and Teresa Sheets. Having that core has made things even easier for Smith in terms of making the midseason transition.

“They’re kind of guiding me for some things; all the tiny details you kind of forget about,” Smith said. “It’s been nice to have those three especially.”

But with newcomers Shelbi Hart, Camille Higashi, Amanda Kirchner and Penny Plyter, Smith also is confident she has a group, albeit a small one, to build on for next year.

“It’s nice to have new girls to try and build the program a little bit,” Smith said. “That’s the goal, to build from here.”

Smith said the team has been able to adjust to her arrival about as well as any team can at the midpoint in the season.

“It’s a great bunch of girls,” Smith said. “They’re pretty flexible. I think the adjustment has been OK that way.”

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been obstacles to overcome.

“Size. If we had a few more girls, it’d make it a little easier as far as relays,” Smith said. “And getting to know swimmers well enough one-on-one to know what events to swim in.”

But that’s getting better each time the Eagles are in the pool, Smith said. As a result, the team has a variety of goals both for the rest of this season and looking to next.

“I think it’s trying to get as many girls as we can into districts, trying to get Lexi to state,” she said. “And recruiting for next year. And having fun.”

As for Tyree-Dewell, she’s looking forward to simply sitting back and watching for a change.

“I can just come and enjoy and watch now,” she said. “I get to cheer the girls on, cause I know ’em too.”

Klahowya lost against Port Angeles on Thursday, 130-46, but the Eagles won the 200 free relay. Metzger added wins in the 50 and 100 freestyles and Jenson took the 100 breast.

Klahowya plays host to Olympic at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Olympic Aquatic Center.

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