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Draper Journal

Corner Canyon swimming growing with all levels

Dec 06, 2018 03:12PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Corner Canyon High’s McKay Larsen returns to lead the boys swimming team this season. The sophomore had top-10 finishes in three events at the 5A state championships last year. (Photo courtesy Keith Bangerter)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

The Corner Canyon swimming teams have a different look this season from last year when the girls squad finished fourth and the boys took 11th in the 5A state championships. According to head coach Patrick Thurman, nearly half of his swimmers are new to the program and many haven’t swum competitively before.

“The early season challenge has been teaching basics and helping everyone to feel a part of something,” said Thurman, who is in his sixth year at CCHS.

All-State juniors River Johnson (100 backstroke) and Eliza Balfe (50 freestyle) return to lead the girls squad. Juniors Aliza Smith, Kristin Miller and Grace Poulson along with sophomore Britta Catmull will also add leadership to the team in and out of the pool.

“They all have a strong desire to help out the team again,” Thurman said. 

Balfe said she is excited for the season with a “fun and unified” team. “We are definitely strengthening our team aspect through practices and spending time together,” she said. “It was fun to see all of the hard work start to pay off in the meets.”

On the boys side, McKay Larsen, who had top-10 finishes in the 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke and the boys 200 medley relay, will be back for his sophomore season to lead the boys team.

“Graduations and boys wanting to pursue other interests have taken a bit out of the high-end talent, but we have a solid group of younger boys who would love to fill in the gaps,” Thurman said. “It is still too early to know who or where they will contribute, but they are dedicated and working hard.”

Thurman hopes to be able to help each individual swimmer improve as he coaches this team that has a wide range of talent from beginners to athletes progressing toward collegiate swimming. 

“We are focused on having positive vibes at practice, being respectful of everyone, giving 100 percent every day, showing good sportsmanship and helping everyone to feel included,” Thurman said. “We understand that we can't control much, so we are trying to make the most of the things that we can directly impact.”

“We are continuing to grow in size and it’s great; the more, the merrier,” Larsen said. “It’s seems like a lot of people have brought their friends to the team and that’s great because we all have a good time. And, as we’ve been swimming a lot already in preparing for the season, there is already a lot of improvement.”

Larsen, whose father swam for BYU, also has his sights on swimming at the next level. He currently practices each morning with the high school team and after school with his club team and is focusing on the “little things” to continually achieve his personal goals and help the team at the same time. He said he has learned the value of dedication and commitment through his competitive efforts in the pool since he was 5 years old. “Hard work can get you to where you want to go regardless of other factors around you,” he said.

Balfe also puts additional time in the pool and dryland training through the CCHS program and her own club team each day. She is grateful to have been competing the past six years in a sport that she now can’t imagine her life without. “I just love the feeling of swimming faster,” she said. “Plus, swimming builds me physically and certainly helps me that way. But’s it’s also about trying to be a better person.”

Corner Canyon began the season defeating Park City 279 to 257 on Nov. 7. Larsen had two first-place finishes in the 100 fly and 500 free as well as Jaxon Barlow in the 50 free and 100 breast while sophomore Steel Smith won the 100 free and took second in the 200 free for the boys team. On the girls side, Balfe came in first in the 100 free and third in the 200 free, Smith placed first in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 IM and Johnson had two second-place showings in the 200 IM and 100 fly.

“We had lots of swimmers who competed in a meet for the first time and there were lots of nerves and missteps,” Thurman said. “But, I was pleased with the effort, the competitiveness and sportsmanship that was shown by the Chargers. Many have been working hard and it was great to see that effort be rewarded with fast swims and an early season victory. We have lots of work to do, but this is a nice spot to be starting from.” 

At the Thanksgiving Invitational Nov. 16-17, the girls squad came in fourth place out of 26 teams with the boys placing 11th. Johnson was recognized as the top Junior Female of the Meet with Larsen receiving top Sophomore Male of the Meet honors. 

“The team had 78 percent best times and lots of kids experienced their first big meet and handled the nerves well,” Thuman said. 

The Chargers also have meets scheduled this season with Skyline Nov. 27, West Nov. 28, Timpview Dec. 6, Jordan Dec. 13, Cottonwood Jan. 3, Brighton Jan. 10 and Alta Jan. 17. The Region 7 championships are scheduled for Jan. 25 at South Davis with the 5A state championships slated for Feb. 8-9 at Brigham Young University. 

Thurman looks forward to a successful year as he helps his athletes to “overcome their mental roadblocks and doubts.” “There are a lot of great students who are just scratching the surface of their abilities and I am hoping to help them realize what they can accomplish,” Thurman said. “It will be a new experience for so many, but I feel that the trust is developing and the skills are coming along.”

Also on the 111-member squad are seniors Marina Allen, Samantha Allen, Jasmie Arreguin, Cameron Arthur, Gabby Bingham,  Auston Bowler, Alex Brunt, Zachary Call, Kolbie Camp, Ashley Castro, Wesley Clegg, Mia Hadden, Olivia Hendricks, Mike Henry, Daylen Jackson, Brittany Mackey, Gabe Maires, Cierra McKinley, Zachary Moffat, and Samantha Winward; juniors Katia Albayeros, Jacob Ashton, Addey Blaser, Lauren Crayk, Landon Dance, Matt Daynes,  Suzy Glasscock, Lauren Hawker, Katrine Hotvedt, Shaye Jackson, Jacob Kessler, Frank Long, Annika Manwaring, Derby Marshall, Patrick Mayer, Xochitl Medina, Alexander Miller, Lilian Nguyen,  Carson Pollock, Mia Raddatz, Julianna Smith and Camryn Young; sophomores Nicole Aponte, Pega Arani, Julian Armstrong, Zach Bautista, Nathan Call,  Brsyn Camp, Ella Cheminant, Tomas Coker, Madeleine Colton, Jane Donaldson, Richard Engar, Grace Ericksen, Amara Featherston, Austin Fultz, Rylie Greenwood, Tatiana Herrera, Victor Hollenbach, Aubrey Hoopes, Jake Kartchner, Sydney Kirkham, Caeli Kreilin, Keaton Larabee, Money Lefavor, Tyler Lybbert, Maggie Macpherson, Jordan Moore, Alexa Oldroyd, Gracie Pollick, Chloe Seeborg, Mia Sheneman,  Steele Smith, Jessica Sorenson, Dylan Squire, Jazmine Summers, Madison Thomas, Mason Towns and Lauren Washenko; and freshmen Jaxon Barlow, Katie Bingham, Ashton Brunt, Sofia Carlson, Daniel Castro, Nadia Chanthaphuang, Connor Colton, Hunter Cox, Reagan Crayk, Andrew De La Cruz, Maddie Delis, Lauren Dunn,  Tristan Flanigan,  Sachi Hirsche, Brad Jackson, Lily Johnson, Calypso Levitre, Daniel Mark, Tanner Partridge, Krishna Patel, Ashlin Richardson, Ethan Robichaux, Megan Schmidt, Kali Smith and Anna Sorensen.

Thurman said he is excited for the potential of his team in and out of the pool. “This is going to be an incredibly rewarding journey for them and myself,” he said.

“This is a good group who is working hard and having fun,” Larsen said. “I’m excited to have a great season with them.”