James Greaney comes up for air in the breaststroke in the boys 200 medley relay. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity swimming teams participated in the annual Central Valley Conference preview meet last weekend and came out of it with better-than-expected results.

“We’re actually doing really well for the beginning of the season. A lot of people have been practicing throughout the year. We’re at a really good place right now and we have the whole season to get better,” said Christina Ford, a Celt senior.

While McNary didn’t top many of the races, the boys’ Ben Johnson said swimmers discovered the off-season hadn’t left them as rusty as they expected.

“We all thought our times would be way off after a couple of months out of the pool, but we were able to pick up where we left off for the most part,” Johnson said.

The girls won the 200-yard breaststroke relay with a time of 2:36.64 with Morgan Kuch, Emily Biondi, Josie Ellis and Nissa Johnson in the pool; Emily McNichols, Gabby Meyer, Anjelica Glassey and Brittney Kiser took third in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:25.58; Joelle Debban, Ashley Fisar, Samantha Williams and Laura Donaldson took second in the 200 butterfly relay with a time of 2:11.22; and Ford, Kiana Briones, Joelle Debban and Donaldson took third in the 400 freestyle, notching a time of 4:18.08.

“I was really impressed with the younger girls we have on our team, a lot of the freshmen and sophomores really stepped it up. They totally went above what I expected them to do,” Donaldson said.

In addition to making gains in the relay races, Donaldson is hoping to improve her times in the 50 and 100 freestyle races this season and said taking part in cross country this fall has helped her endurance.

“The relays are still my favorites though because I love the team aspect,” she said.

As one of a few returning seniors, Ford said she hoped to provide stable leadership for the team as the season unfurls.

“I would like to see people working hard and staying positive. It’s easy to get down and not want to work as hard, but staying positive helps us have fun and that’s really what it’s all about,” she said. “For my part, I just want to spend a lot of time in the pool. I remember how important it was when I was a freshman to see the seniors staying in the pool with us and doing all the sets.”

The boys took first in the 200-yard butterfly relay and set a new meet record with a time of 1:46.93. Johnson, Alex Fox, Charlie Dennis and Perry Groves claimed it; and Eliseo Bell-Uribe, Blake Swearingen, Colton Baker and Tristin Mistkawi took second in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:45.69.

As with the Lady Celt seniors, Johnson said he was going to be taking a lead role in making sure the swimmers got the necessary time in the pool.

“There’s a lot of new people and quite a few returners. It’s going to be our job to make sure people are working hard,” he said.

Johnson wants to see the boys return to the state meet in the 200 free relay this year and shave some time off his 48 second mark in the 100 free individual race.

“We have a lot of strong swimmers this season, but we’re going to have to wait and see how things shake out,” he said.

Kim Phillips, McNary head coach, said she was pleased with the outcome of the meet, but she’ll be looking for a lot of improvement during the coming months.

“We have some real tough teams in the district and I want them to be happy with their improvement over the season,” she said.