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Eight-year-olds Kenzie Kuhn and Kailynn Hodak place third in 100-yard medley relay

COURTESY PHOTO - Molalla swimmers Kenzie Kuhn, left, and Kailynn Hodak were  on Oregon City's third-place 100-yard medley relay team.

The Molalla Aquatic Center shut down indefinitely on March 18, due to the coronavirus.

But before the pool closed, three young swimmers made a big splash.

Nine-year-old Iker Gordillo, and eight-year-olds Kenzie Kuhn and Kailynn Hodak, all competing for the Molalla branch of the Oregon City Swim Team, swam at the Oregon Swimming short course 10-and-under championships on Feb. 22-23 at the Willamalane Center in Springfield.

Kuhn and Hodak placed third in the 8-and-under 100-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 24.51 seconds with Oregon City swimmers Presley Schmidt and Cayna Craver.

"It was exciting to see them get their medals, just seeing the smile on their face was really great," Molalla coach Al Capron said. "The commitment that they put forth to go to the meet and the preparation they put in was pretty exciting. They are very competitive with each other, so it was nice to see them be rewarded for that competitiveness that they have."

According to Capron, Kuhn and Hodak could sometimes be too competitive. To master strokes, he had to slow them down and get them to swim calm and breathe.

"Kailynn was very consistently coming to practice and wanted to race Kenzie, who was a little faster naturally," Capron said. "Those two girls battled it out. They wanted to race each other, and I had to discourage that a little bit."

Kuhn has also improved her diving.

"That really made a difference with the relay," Capron said. "It takes every swimmer to have a pretty good leg."

Gordillo finished seventh in the 50 back in 40.74 and eighth in the 100 free in 1:16.58.

"He's just a natural swimmer," Capron said.

Oregon City has around 27 swimmers in its Molalla branch across three levels — novice, explorer and race.

"Some of our older kids have worked really hard," Capron said. "The state times are just so fast and require a substantial amount of commitment, which is hard to teach to a new swimmer."

The Oregon City Swim Team was scheduled to host a meet on March 14-15. However, USA Swimming has canceled all sanctioned events through April 30.

With the Oregon City and Molalla pools both closed, coaches have come up with creative ways to train athletes, using Zoom, Instagram and Youtube.

Capron is also encouraging his athletes to do yoga 2-3 days a week, as well as listen to podcasts.

Derek Wiley
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