New swim coach brings own experience to Sweet Home club

Scott Swanson

Life has taken some unexpected turns for Jacquie Price in the last few years, but now she finds herself at the helm of the Sweet Home Swim Club.

“I’m excited,” Price said. “I’ve always loved swimming, figuring out new coaches’ styles. I’m looking forward to helping swimmers with their goals.”

Price, 21, grew up in Springfield, where she swam for Thurston High School and competed for the Willamalane Club.

She started swimming when she was 7 and found she was a natural.

“My dad put me in a couple of sports and I wasn’t the greatest at it, but when I was put in swim lessons, let’s just say I climbed the stations really quickly.”

He father then put her in a beginner swim team program, Price said.

“He asked me if I wanted to back to gymnastics and I said, ‘No, Dad, I love swimming.'”

She did “fairly well,” particularly after she got to high school, where she qualified for the 6A state championships four years in a row, setting school records in the  100 Butterfly and the 500 Freestyle. She was a two-time MVP for Thurston.

Her highest finish at state was second in the 100 Fly as a senior.

She wound up with a swimming scholarship to Indiana State University, where she competing for two years for the Sycamores, who were starting a women’s program.

She was a butterfly specialist, mixing in some 500 Free and 400 Individual Medley events.

As a sophomore, she placed second in the Missouri Valley Conference 200 Butterfly finals, dropping 10 seconds off her personal best time. She set school records in the 100 Fly (55.09) and 200 Fly (2:00.63) and was named First Team All-MVC as a sophomore in 2017-18.

She transferred to Oregon State University for her 2018-19 season.

As a junior at Oregon State, Price did well, “though I didn’t place as well as I did at Indiana,” she said. “I dropped time in all my events, so I was pretty happy with that.”

While at OSU she got to know former Sweet Home star Lauren Yon, who started her career with the Beavers before the program was cut, in early 2019.

Yon told her about an opening for an assistant at the Sweet Home club, where Yon’s mother Angie and former Sweet Home star Bruce Davis were head coaches.

Price was put in charge of the Bronze program, the youngest swimmers, last fall. When Davis and Yon decided to retire, she was promoted to head coach. She started when the pool opened on June 15.

Price, who also works as a lifeguard at the pool, leads a club of about 40 swimmers who haven’t been in a pool for three months. There are challenges, she said.

“I think it’s difficult trying to work around practices when we’re not having as many people in the lanes. I’ve been able to work through it, making sure all the requirements are met.”

She said club members arrived ready to swim, but there are restrictions on normal practices.

“Just having to wear masks, not being able to talk to your friends during practices.”

Though at this point there are no meets on the schedule, due to coronavirus restrictions, Price said she’s working to build camaraderie within the club, particularly “between the younger kids and older kids.”

“We’re kind of just training, trying to get back into it,” she said. ”

After years of swimming as a club member, being head coach is a new experience, she said.

“It’s a little different because I wasn’t really part of the swim board,” she said. “I didn’t see the behind-the-scenes. Now I feel like I’m part of making the club rather than just being on the club.”