A Spectacular Swim Season


Aly Guernsey, Not a swimmer

The Seward High School Swim team had a remarkable season, a myriad of podium places, and even a few school records. 

The relay group of seniors Paxton Hill (Senior) and Jackson Bird (Senior), plus juniors Nick and Ben Ambrosiani (Junior), swept the 200 Freestyle Relay, 400 Freestyle Relay, and 200 Medley Relay for most of the season leading up to their region and state competition. All four members swam one individual event as well as the three relays.

The Region Championships saw a full sweep of the three Seward relay teams: 1st in the 200 Freestyle Relay with a time of 1:30.26; 1st in the 200 Medley Relay with a time of 1:40.72; and 1st in the 400 Freestyle Relay with a time of 3:20.21. 

In addition to qualifying all three relay teams, the relay boys and the other members of the team, Iver Gates and Esme Wilder had a magnificent run at the individual events (Oliver Trobaugh and Hallee Schoening did not attend Regions). Esme, the singular member of the Seahawk girls’ team at this point, finished 6th in both the 100 Butterfly and 100 Breaststroke with times of 1:09.54 and 1:17.31 respectively. Iver swam the 100 Breaststroke in 1:10.93 for sixth place, competing against his teammate Jackson, who finished as the region champion with a 1:03.43. Nick swam the 50 Free, flying through with a time of 22.69 seconds for a second-place finish. Ben competed in the 100 Free, finishing third at 49.64 seconds. Paxton swam the 100 Fly, finishing as region champion with a time of 53.76 seconds. 

For the first time in many years, the Seward Seahawks beat out the rest of the region teams to secure the Region Champion title, edging ahead of Colony by a  mere two points. The Seahawks held their own at state. 

In other achievements, the Seward Home Meet earlier in the season provided some stellar times, and even several records. Home meets of any sport have great energy from the support of the town, and Seward has more than most with the wonderful community that has grown around the sport. Oliver, who swam to a fifth-place finish in both the 100 Breaststroke and the 50 Free, states that “home meets are nice because you are familiar with the pool and a lot more people come out to support the team.” Iver took fourth in the 50 Free, with Jackson in first in the event. Paxton continued a streak of first-place podiums in the 100 Fly; Ben placed first as well in the 100 Free. Esme won her 100 Breaststroke and second in her 200 Individual Medley. 

During this meet, all three of the boys’ relays swam to pool records: 200 Freestyle 1:35.04, 200 Medley 1:45.68, and 400 Freestyle Relay 3:28.93. In addition, the 400 Freestyle Relay time is a school record. Pool records must be swam in the Seward High School pool, but school records can be swam anywhere by Seahawk team members, which generally makes these times harder to beat. 

That 400 Freestyle school record was special because it happened more than once. At every meet for the rest of the season, they improved. At regions, the team swam 8.72 seconds faster than at the Seward Home meet. The next week, the team swam at the State Championship, securing second place state runner-ups, and re-broke that record AGAIN by an additional 4.8 seconds. 

The aforementioned 2nd place relay, combined with a 5th place 200 Medley Relay, and achieving State Champions in the 200 Freestyle Relay, along with various top finishes in individual races, carried the Seward Seahawk Boys Swim team to tie as state runner-up with Eagle River High School, a truly momentous moment for the small Seward team. Solomon D’Amico, head coach of the team, is most proud of “the kids for growing together and helping each other and themselves realize how good they can be with consistent hard work, excellent recovery and trust/belief in the process.” Oliver mentioned how the team “spent a lot of time talking about how everyday activities affect your performance,” which helped him “prepare for meets better.” 

Paxton Hill and Jackson Bird were the two seniors on the team this year–both swimming for the past eight years. Jackson participated in the 100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Individual Medley, 200 Freestyle and 100 Freestyle. Paxton competes in the 100 Butterfly, 100 Freestyle, 50 Freestyle, 200 Butterfly, and 200 Freestyle. When asked what advice had stuck with him the most from his time in swimming, Paxton replied, “To have fun and enjoy the process, not take it too seriously because at that point you are no longer having fun, so what’s the point?,” which is closely related to an anecdote of Coach Sol. 

Considering Paxton and Jackson were co-captains this year, Paxton said his best advice for those coming up would be to “stick with it even though it’s tough to keep going, doing the same thing for so long, but you will perform a lot better and see the results later.” Throughout Paxton’s time in the sport, he has had the opportunity to “meet a lot of cool people, make a lot of close friends, and gone on a lot of trips to places [he] would have never normally gone, like Sitka last year and Seattle at the end of March.”

The swim season seems to have been a great time for all involved, from breaking records and winning events, to growing together as a team. You can look forward to seeing more great things happen from this team next year as they return in the fall.