Swimming: Kennedy hits the pool for inaugural season
Kennedy High School is seeing more winter athletics participation than ever this season, thanks to the recent addition of swimming and wrestling to its lineup.
Although Kennedy had a wrestling team about 15 years ago, swimming is a new venture for the 2A school.
With the new sport comes a new coach. Casey Arn swam for Hillsboro High School as a student, and stepped up to fill the swimming coach role at Kennedy, where he teaches science.
"He's a great teacher, and if he can teach and has experience, that goes hand in hand with being a coach," said Athletic Director Kevin Moffatt. "If we're starting a program from scratch, we want someone in there that students feel real good about, so they're at the right comfort level with the coach to sign up."
Already there are around 15 students signed up, with more to come, Arn said. He noted that a lot of the interest is among students who don't typically participate in the "big three" sports of football, basketball and baseball.
"We got a lot more interest than we thought we would," he said. "We projected maybe seven or eight. And there are still some on the fence."
Nearly everyone on the female-dominated team (there are currently only five boys on board) comes with no competitive swimming experience.
The one exception is sophomore Jacob Miller, who competes on a club swim team.
"Thankfully, he swims the more difficult ones, like the 500, the individual medley and the butterfly," Arn said, adding he's fairly confident Miller could be competitive at state.
With a few swimmers like Miller already confident in their abilities, Arn is working closely with the less experienced students, helping them work on techniques and improve on their personal records.
"My expectation is yes, we'll have fun, but we need to continue to improve every practice," he said. "It's a process learning the finer points of swimming."
And because he's also new to the sport, Arn isn't sure if his 2A Kennedy team will be blown out of the water or be able to keep up with the competition, especially since OSAA lumps 1A through 4A schools together in swimming.
"Since we're completely new, I have no idea what the competition is going to be like," Arn admitted. "I don't know what we're up against, so the goal now is simply to get better with our own PRs and not worry about other teams. We don't want to go fast, but we want to establish good habits. ... In swimming, you don't need talent, but you need to put in the work."
The team also has a limited window for practice. They use the Silverton Municipal Pool, but they only have access to two lanes for an hour's stretch of time three days a week, thanks to club teams using the pool at the same time and the 100-member Silverton High School team practicing immediately after them. The current arrangement allows the team to hit the weight room and continue working on strengthening on off days when the pool is booked by other programs.
The Trojans' first meet will be Dec. 5 in Albany. The goal, Arn said, is to get everyone on the team to compete in at least one event.
"I sincerely think the goal is to have fun," Arn said. "And already, even though they're swimming laps, students have said it's more fun than they thought it would be."