Eagle swimmers off to a strong start

The HRVHS swim team is training hard to prepare for its first meet against The Dalles-Wahtonka on Dec. 3

November 26, 2005

With 44 members, this season’s Hood River Valley High School swim team is the biggest it has been in years. And the squad, coached by Jane Nichols and Mike Pendleton, is looking strong, as they are already swimming 3,500-4,000 meters each practice, which is ahead of last year’s early-season progress.

Led by boys’ captains Jon Wadman and Zed Debbaut, both juniors, and three senior girls’ captains, Kendra Mohar, Nicole Shames and Ariel MacMillan, the team is working hard for their first meet against The Dalles-Wahtonka on Dec. 3.

“We’re working to lengthen and strengthen muscles and improve our endurance and mental toughness,” said Nichols. “We’re working on all around building of the body so it can respond — mentally and physically — when required to go fast.”

With only five freshmen and seven seniors on the team, 32 swimmers are either sophomores or juniors, which is reason for optimism about the near-future of the program.

“This year, I expect us individually to do well,” said Nichols. “But many of our better swimmers seem to have a lot on their plates with other activities. That will take time away from swimming … It’s going to depend on what their priorities are later in the season.”

The team’s eight-meet season will culminate with the district meet, which will be in Hood River this year. Although individual meets are important, the true test is districts because it is the only meet at which swimmers can qualify for state.

“We’re basically preparing for districts all season long,” said Nichols.

The top swimmer in each event at districts automatically qualifies for state. After that, only swimmers who beat pre-determined “state times” at districts qualify. The team will be pushing for a retribution of sorts, as the boys relay team was denied a trip to state by a hundredth of a second. They graduated only six seniors last season, including Kelsey Hale, who is now swimming for Eureka College in Illinois.

The Intermountain Conference is home to two of the state’s top 4A teams, Bend and Summit high schools. According to Nichols, their success comes from high numbers of year-round swimmers. For many teams, including Hood River, most of their swimmers are multi-sport athletes that hit the pool only a few months of the year. That trend is slowly changing for the Eagles, however, as young, more involved club swimmers are feeding into the high school program.

Nichols hesitates to make predictions about individual swimmers this early in the season.

“Until you get them in the water at a meet, swimming against others and in front of their friends and a crowd, you never know,” she said. “I do know, the kids will be happy with what they do and we will provide them with the tools they need to do the best they can do.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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