Swimmers toast successful seasons

At the swimming dessert last Thursday, coach Doug Peargin had an opportunity to put the Husky swim season into perspective.

The Sweet Home boys had just come off a first place finish at district and a seventh place finish at state. The girls were also successful, taking third at district. All of this from a team with just 19 total swimmers, over half of whom had not competed in swimming before and, in some cases, had not participated in any athletic competition.

“This group accomplished as much a they could possibly accomplish,” said Peargin.

He was especially proud of their accomplishments at district, where every swimmer contributed to the unexpected success that they had.

“If one of those kids would not have place, we wouldn’t have trophied,” said Peargin. “When they came home, all 19 of those kids had an award to show Mom and Dad. That was special.”

Final team awards were also passed out at the dessert. The top underclassmen (for frosh and sophomore swimmers) went to Larry Coulter for the boys and was jointly shared by Dani Birky and Nichole Martin for the girls. Anne Helfrich was tabbed as the outstanding girl swimmer and four event state medalist Sean Martin received the boys’ honor.

Peargin emphasized the extraordinary contributions that both Helfrich and Martin brought to the program, not only in the pool but beyond.

“I never heard either one say a bad word about another person or the program,” said Peargin, noting the tremendous character qualities of both.

“She’s got a winning attitude,” said Peargin of Helfrich. “She and Coach Kirkland kept the girls crew together and gave them confidence when they had to perform.”

Helfrich originally only took up swimming because her brothers encouraged her to take it up to keep in shape for running track and cross country. All of her athletic competitions forced her to become disciplined.

“I love going home feeling I’ve just given something everything I’ve got,” said Helfrich.

For Martin, the achievements he’s had are good, but the relationships he’s had with teammates and coaches far surpass those.

“Swimming fast is fun, but, when it comes down to it, relationships and people is what matters the most,” said Martin. “I appreciate all the work that the coaches put in to help us not only strive to do good in the pool but in life to always be doing the best you can.”

Peargin saw Martin do all the tough things to make himself a great swimmer and all the little things to make himself a team leader.

“He doesn’t say much; he just does everything,” explained Peargin, noting his willingness to help in the meet set up or lend support to the inexperienced swimmers.

That kind of character showed when Martin set four lifetime bests in his final four swims at state with huge time drops from Friday to Saturday.

“With his heart and bringing those other kids up another level, we were able to take seventh place,” said Peargin.

Peargin believes that the leadership and ability of Helfrich and Martin will be missed, but will probably show its lasting effect on the athletes who return next year.