A tidal wave of 239 swimmers plus coaches, families, friends, spectators and volunteers flooded Gleason Pool and the adjacent city park with excitement for the July 19-21 John Day Swim Meet.
The John Day Sea Dragons hosted the event which included six other teams.
Prineville won the event with The Dalles in second place, Lakeview third and John Day fourth. In fifth place was the Hi-Desert team from Burns, followed by Pendleton Swim Association and La Grande Swim Club.
“It’s overwhelming to see the outpouring of swimmers who came to enjoy this with us and to see the blend of year-round swimmers and our seasonal swim teams join together,” said John Day head coach Sabrina Howard.
Haley Walker, president of the John Day Swim Team, said the event ran smoothly, and their team of 37 performed well.
Andrew Hunt earned a gold medal in the boys 13-14 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:16.38.
“It’s nice to have the feeling of the entire swim family here in John Day — all the teams,” Walker said. “It’s just one big family event ... We couldn’t do this without all the volunteers, and the concession stand by Hope 4 Paws has been a great partnership for a good cause.”
The big meet gives the swimmers a chance to compete against tough teams before their “grand finale,” the Cascade East District Championships which will be held in John Day July 26-28.
Members of the district include John Day, Prineville, Lakeview and Hi-Desert teams.
It was John Day swimmer Justin Hodge’s first meet of the season. Due to his summer work schedule, he’s had to miss two previous meets held in Prineville and Lakeview.
The 15-year-old was glad to compete in the local invitational.
“I like having a meet before districts, because we see a lot more teams than normal,” he said.
His favorite thing about being a part of the swim meet and the team?
“I like to hang out with friends 24/7, and it helps me keep in shape,” he said.
It’s been 12-year-old Syrus Workman’s first year on the team.
“I like that it’s really laid back,” he said. “There are nice people and a good crowd.”
Jillie Thunell, 9, who is in her second year competing, said her favorite event was the freestyle.
Among the John Day swimmers earning points for the team’s fourth-place finish were, for the girls, Sierra May with 22 points, including silver medals in the girls 11-12 100-yard individual medley and 50 freestyle and bronze medals in the 200 freestyle and 50-yard breaststroke; Allison Fansler with 15 points, including a silver medal in the girls 8 and under 50-yard freestyle and bronze medals in the 25-yard butterfly and the 25-yard breaststroke; and Colbie Howard with 13 points, including a silver medal in the girls 10 and under 200 freestyle and a bronze in the girls 9-10 100 freestyle.
For the boys, Quinn Larson earned 18 points and had a silver medal in the boys 13-14 200-yard freestyle and bronze medals in the 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle; Andrew Hunt earned 15 points. In addition to gold in the 100 butterfly, he earned silver in the 50 freestyle. Justin Hodge earned 15 points with one silver medal in the boys 15 and over 50-yard freestyle and two bronze medals in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke and Jack Strong earned 13 points, including bronze in the boys 13-14 100 breaststroke.
Howard said this event will help her guide the team as they prepare for what’s ahead.
“This is a huge teaching tool on what practice will entail for this coming week to prepare for district championships,” she said.