Small St. Helens swim team competes in shortened season
At St. Helens High School, the swimming season is underway and is shortened, as is the case with other sports at the high school.
"Normally, we would have a 14-week season," coach Chelsie Orr said. "This year, we were given a six-week season, with a total of five meets."
The first week was set aside for practice. The first meet was held in the second week of the season.
"It is a quick, get-in-and-get-going, no-nonsense type of season," said Orr, who coaches both boys and girls swimmers.
At St. Helens High School, boys and girls swim as a team.
"We swim co-ed, so all of our meets and practices are done together," Orr said. "So, our season starts and ends at the same time."
At press time the team has had two meets. On May 20 the team competed against Parkrose and La Salle in triple dual. On May 27, St. Helens swam against Scappoose in a duel meet at Eisenschmidt Pool.
"Our girls were able to come out on top against both La Salle and Parkrose," Orr said. "We only had three boys that went to that meet. They lost to both teams. Last week, unfortunately, we lost both boys and girls to Scappoose."
Looking at her boys swim squad, Orr pointed out three seniors who have had strong performances and have been with the team all four years. They are Nick Brooks, Ryan Maher and Jake Maher.
"They are really strong athletes," Orr added, noting that Jake and Ryan are twins.
"We also have a fourth boy who is a junior, Andrew Pletsch, who is really coming along strong this year," she said. "Those four boys really stand out and are definitely pulling their weight for being such a small boy's team. They work really hard and they perform like it's double the amount of people."
Trevor McFarland is also on the team.
The girls team is small as well.
"We don't have any girl seniors, so we are looking at this season as kind of prep for next season, because this is the same squad of girls who will be together again in six months," Orr said.
"We have standouts in a junior," she said. "Molly Wheeldon has gone to state as a freshman and a sophomore. We have a new girl on the team who is a freshman; her name is Maggie Prevish. She has older siblings who have gone through the program. She is absolutely amazing to watch — her freestyle time is the second-fastest on our team of anything in the last three years."
This season, the boys and girls swim teams have had to do with less.
"We normally don't really go under 30 swimmers total, between girls and boys," Orr said. "This year, we haven't even made it to 15, so we're less than half of our strength and our force, so they're really working hard to make up for that."
While it's a small team, Orr is confident in her team.
"We need to get strength in our numbers because swimming is a sport that is affected by the depth of your team and how many swimmers you have," she said.
Orr continued, "I fully believe that our talent is good enough for us to win, but we just don't have the talent combined with numbers. Next year, I'm confident we'll get the numbers, we'll combine that with the talent, and that will be a strong force to compete with."
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