Lady Celt Marissa Kuch cruises through the pool at the Kroc Center in a school record attempt in the 200 free.KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

Lady Celt Marissa Kuch cruises through the pool at the Kroc Center in a school record attempt in the 200 free.KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Neither the boys nor girls varsity swimming teams managed a win over the South Salem High School Saxons Thursday, Dec. 18, but one young Lady Celt nearly set a new school record.

Freshman Marissa Kuch hit 1:59.67 in the 200 freestyle, just three seconds more than Celtic record of 1:56.59. On Dec. 10, Kuch swam the race in 1:53.70 in the Speedo Winter Junior Championship.

Kuch’s time in the event at the Junior Championship put her among the top 150 swimmers in the nation for her age, 15.

Kuch won the event at the South Salem meet by more than 16 seconds (she was the only race winner for either Celtic team at the varsity level), but the girls fell to the Saxons 95-74. The girls fared better than the boys who lost 132-37 against a deep South Salem roster.

“The biggest thing is keeping our legs going. We get good swims and we’re finishing strong, but our legs are fading,” said Casey Lewin, McNary head coach.

Junior Kiana Briones said that the team performed well even without a lot of race winners.

“We had all of our swimmers for the first time this season and we have good depth when everyone is here,” Briones said.

In addition to the 200 free, Kuch also won the varsity freestyle in 1:00.63. Second place varsity finishers for McNary were: Anjelica Glassey, Briones, Sara Eckert and Kuch in the 200 medley relay in 2:05.53; Abby McCoy in the 200 individual medley; Josie Ellis in the 100 free in 1:03.54; Eckert in the 500 free in 5:47.96; Samantha Williams, Ellis, Briones and Kuch in the 200 free relay; Briones in the 100 breast with a time of 1:18.58; and Glassey, Julianna Kelson, Eckert and Ellis in the 400 free relay in 4:26.07.

Briones said the 100 breast will be her main focus as the season progresses.

“I feel like if I focus on tempo and pacing and don’t rush it, I will be ready when the district meet comes,” she said.

The Celts faced Forest Grove and West Albany high schools in the early weeks of the season, but swimming in different pools made for more than a few hiccups.

“At Forest Grove everything was different. They were recording everything by hand and we’re just not used to the old school way of doing it,” Briones said.

Senior Tanner Hughes said the boys team was ready to return to the Kroc after two meets at foreign pools.

“I think we’re in a good place though and we have a good foundation to build on,” Hughes said.