Since its October 2 grand re-opening, the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center has quickly returned to its place as a community staple for Cottage Grove residents.
Last Friday, Dec. 6 the facility achieved another new milestone as it played host to the first high school swimming event of the 2019-20 year. Marshfield, Marist and North Eugene High Schools traveled to the Grove to join the Lions for the season-opening relay meet.
Relay meets have become a kind of season-opening tradition for many area schools, but the events themselves are decidedly non-traditional. With coed relay teams, varying relay distances within a single event and even the use of kickboards in some of the group races, it’s a fun and stress-free way for swimmers to get their feet wet before the meets truly start to matter.
“I’ve been really sick recently so it was a little bit harder for me,” said senior Mikayla Baird, who also plays on the water polo team and lifeguards at the Daugherty Center. “But the relay meet is always my favorite meet. It’s super fun and a good start to the year and a good transition for all the new people to feel more comfortable and have fun before it starts getting serious.”
Fun or not, races were held and points nonetheless awarded. In team competition, the Lions finished third out of four with 106 total points, behind Marist (128) and North Eugene (122), but ahead of Marshfield (88).
Highlights for Cottage Grove, however, came in the 100 backstroke and 100 kickboard relays, which the Lions won in 1:17.43 and 1:19.92, respectively.
For a team with 26 total swimmers, boys and girls combined, including a number of first-year participants, the relay meet was an ideal way to iron out some kinks and get in competitive races early in the season.
Jaden Thuesen is a junior at Cottage Grove High School and is competing in sports for the first time in 2019. After wrapping up his first season on the cross country team in the fall, Thuesen immediately noticed some differences after his first swim event.
“I don’t get to breath air as much as I want to,” Thuesen said laughing, but was still happy with his inaugural performance and looks forward to his first year in the pool.
“I’m very excited, not a lot of nervousness. I thought it was really fun,” he said.
Senior Nadia Witt, who hasn’t swam competitively for three years, was also encouraged by the team’s early-season performance.
“I felt really good,” Witt said. “I was really nervous because it was my first swim meet since my freshman year, but I liked how we raced. It was really nice.”
The CGHS boys’ and girls’ swim teams next take to the pool this evening, Thurs., Dec. 12 as Cascade Christian, Marist, Marshfield and Phoenix visit for the Cottage Grove Invite. Events are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m.