Family and fun first, championships come second.
That's Jesuit's unofficial mantra, both with the girls' and boys' swimming teams. Head coach Brian Butcher wants his program to enjoy the process, to invest in the team concept and build bonds that are deeper than just times and marks on a piece of paper. He models the Crusader mammoth the same way collegiate programs are constructed: selflessness, teamwork and sacrifice. Jesuit attracts some of the best club swimmers in the state, but they have to entrust into those philosophies. Without buy-in, there are no banners.
That kind of culture has been built and sustained in the past decade. The Crusaders have the right type of kids, swimmers who want to succeed collectively. The Jesuit girls won their second straight Metro League district title on Feb. 15 at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center, overcoming Sunset's super talented relays with depth and diversity throughout the lineup.
"There is something different about Jesuit, we're just a big family" Jesuit sophomore Fay Marie Lustria said. "We're all really good friends. Our team captains are really good about leading us and making us feel welcome. I love spending time with the freshmen, they're really fun. And the sophomores and juniors are really good about pushing each other and making sure we get our best times. We cheer for each other behind the blocks. That's just the kind of family we are."
Lustria is one of Butcher's favorites. She's a kind, good-natured teenager with a big smile out of the pool. But put her between the pool lanes and the competitive switch flips. Once she gets out of the water, that smile comes back. However, the sophomore is not really interested in second place. At districts, Lustria won the 100 butterfly, the 200 individual medley and swam the third leg of Jesuit's triumphant 200 medley relay. At 5-foot-4, Lustria said she's not the typical size of district champion. But what she lacks in dimensions, she more than makes up for in heart and attention to detail.
"I'm not really tall for a swimmer," Lustria said with a laugh. "So, I really try to push my underwaters and my turns. That's where I can get ahead, especially in high school swimming because it's more sprint-oriented, so I need to work on the smaller details to improve."
Jesuit senior Isabella Wallace won the 100 free and led off the 200 medley relay. Junior Emma Matous and freshman Alaina Pitton were also part of that relay squad.
"Everyone has to be a team player and contribute the best that they can," Lustria said. "It doesn't matter if you lose or win, as long as you put in your best effort, that's what counts. I really like the atmosphere here and being with Jesuit teammates motivates me to really do my best and try to score points for the team. It's a place where we all can push each other to be the best we can be."
Sunset won just as many Metro titles as Jesuit with four total first places. The Apollos won the 200 and 400 free relay, Kiki Lindsay took first in the 500 free and Tia Lindsay won the 100 backstroke. Kiki Lindsay traded the 500 free lead back and forth with Jesuit senior Hannah Cooney before taking over for good with about four laps to go.
"I try to go in a little bit numb and not really think about it," Kiki Lindsay said. "It's going to hurt, but no matter what I'm going to finish it, so I'm going to be fine."
Sophomore Hannah Trainer had two second places, one in the 50 free, the other in the 100 free. Tia Lindsay, the defending state champ in the 200 IM, took second in Metro behind Lustria. If the Apollos can find a way to get as many girls into the 'A' Class 6A finals as possible, hold serve with their stars and maybe coax another first place or two, they can put some heat on the Crusaders at the 6A state championship meet on Saturday back at THAC. The Lindsays are kin, of course. But the Apollo teams have always had a sisterly energy to them. Over the years stars such as Angie Lindsay, Lindsay Swail and Alayna Connor set the standard, one that the younger Lindsays and Trainer have upheld. Kiki Lindsay said Sunset approaches high school swimming differently than most. She's not as concerned with her times. Lindsay suits up to compete for her team.
"I always love competing with my best friends," Kiki Lindsay said. "Since we all have a common goal, it's really easy to come together. Whenever I'm racing, I know they're behind me and supporting me always. We love doing the relays. We want to make sure we set the bar high and continue to achieve at that level, but either way, it's super fun no matter what."
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