Swimmers in the Petersburg High School swim team traveled to Ketchikan to compete in a regional meet in early September. (Photo courtesy of Joy Warnke)

Petersburg High School is preparing for its only home swim meet of the season. This weekend Petersburg will host several teams from around Southeast Alaska in a regional meet. KFSK’s Angela Denning caught up with the team at a recent practice and has this report:

The high school swim team has been practicing since the beginning of August. Some of the swimmers traveled to Ketchikan earlier this month to compete at a meet there. It was the first swim meet of the season. With not many swimmers, Petersburg teams finished in sixth place behind Juneau’s Thunder Mountain, Juneau Douglas, Ketchikan, Craig, and Wrangell.

Petersburg Senior Allie Morgan is the only girl on the team this year. She took third place in all four of her events including the 200 yard freestyle, the 100 butterfly, the 100 freestyle, and the 50 freestyle.

She says her team was late to the start of the meet. They couldn’t warm up on the first day, which was difficult.

“We were in the locker rooms changing when we heard the whistle and then they started,” Morgan said. “And it was kind of scary but, you know, it happened. We all made it so that’s all that matters.”

It’s Morgan’s senior year and her goal is to compete at the state meet, like she has before.

She says she doesn’t care that she took third place in all of her events in Ketchikan. She’s more interested in her times.

“You’re just racing yourself,” she said. “I just added time, which was kind of upsetting because I haven’t lost time, dropped time in a while. But in the future meets we’ll do better hopefully.”

Senior Allie Morgan competes in a regional meet in Ketchikan in September 2021. Her goal is to qualify for the state meet as she has in past years. (Photo courtesy of Joy Warnke)

PHS senior Sean Spigelmyre agrees that swimming is a race against yourself.

“I think that’s how any swimmer thinks of it,” he said. “It’s not really racing the people next to you, which is obviously a huge part of it, but it’s more [about] trying to get a better time. It’s always about racing yourself and racing the clock. It’s not necessarily everyone around you. Everyone’s there with you for it, is all it is.”

Spigelmyre would also like to compete at the state meet. His main event is the backstroke.

“I haven’t made it to state for swimming in my four years of high school,” he said. “So, hopefully this year I’ll be able to make it. I’m hoping I can also get pretty close to our school record if not break our school record for back stroke. Right now I’m kind of struggling but by the end of the season that’s the goal.”

Spigelmyre was sick and couldn’t make the trip to Ketchikan.

However, Petersburg’s Caleb Pfundt took fourth place in the men’s 100 yard backstroke with a time of 1 minute 9 seconds.

In the men’s 400 yard freestyle relay, Petersburg finished in fourth place.

Assistant Swim Coach Kayla Popp says the team worked hard at the meet. She says the season so far is going really well.

“It is going much better than the start of last season,” she said.

Last fall the swim team had to contend with COVID limitations as well as a pool closure after a fire at the Community Center. Students didn’t get to compete much except virtually when they’d share times from their own pool with other schools.

This year COVID testing has allowed the team to travel. Popp says it feels more like a normal year for the most part.

“The meets are going to look a little bit different as far as spectators and things we can and can’t do when we travel,” Popp said. “Those things will look different and I’m anticipating they’ll look different like that for a long time. But as far as when we’re on deck and we’re practicing, it feels okay.”

This weekend Petersburg will be hosting six teams from around the region:  Ketchikan, Craig, Wrangell, Sitka, Thunder Mountain, and Juneau-Douglas.

Popp says she just wants her team to enjoy the event.

“I don’t care about points,” Popp said. “I want them to feel success. I want them to have fun. I want them to do the cheers that they want to do on deck and I want them—at least my seniors—to remember their last home meet.”

The swim meet is not open to the public. Spectators are limited to the guests of swimmers whose names have been submitted to the school.

The school is also streaming the event online. It’s through an application known as GameChanger.