Petersburg Pilot -


VSC Swimmers break regional and state records


Donna Marsh / Submitted Photo

Preston Marsh launches from the starting block in the 100 meter freestyle at the Senior Sectional Meet in Federal Way, Washington on March 9. In this event Marsh set a new state of Alaska record with a final time of 53.02 seconds.

Petersburg’s swim program consistently produces some of the most competitive young swimmers in the state.

The following is a recap of the three major swim events the Viking Swim Club (VSC) has competed in so far this season.

Southeast Champs

In December, the VSC traveled to compete in Juneau’s new pool against the top swimmers in the region at Southeast Champs, a tournament style swim meet.

Sixteen Viking swimmers had fast enough qualifying times to compete, which was a rather small team compared to teams like Juneau which have over a hundred qualifying swimmers.

The team scores are based on total points and Petersburg scored in the middle of the pack as a team, according to VSC Coach Andy Carlisle.

Every kid from Petersburg made it to the finals in at least one event and scored points.

“That doesn’t always happen,” noted Carlisle.

Abel Aulbach was the high scorer in the 13-14 boys age group at the tourney. He tied a VSC club record in the 50-freestyle, a record set by Preston Marsh, two years ago.

Ian Fleming was also among the top scoring swimmers in the 13-14 boys age division.

Peter Kowalski was the top scorer at SE Champs in the boys ten and under age group.

Age Group Champs

Juneau also hosted the Age Group Champs in mid-February and included the top swimmers from all over the state.

“Seven or eight swimmers from Petersburg went to that competition, compared with the 16 who went to Southeast Champs,” said Coach Carlisle. “There are faster qualifying times, it’s a little harder to get in.”

Once again freshman Abel Aulbach stepped up as a leader for the Vikings.

“He broke the record that he tied the meet before, and two other team records. He had a really good meet,” said Carlisle.

Aulbach broke team records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles.

“In the 50 freestyle he set a SE record. It was the fastest that the event has ever been swum by a Southeast swimmer,” said Carlisle.

Among the younger swimmers Peter Kowalski and Rylan Wallace led the way.

Kowalski placed first in individual scoring in the ten and under age group, and Wallace placed second.

“Peter won all of his events except one, and the one he didn’t win he came in second to Rylan. That was pretty fun,” said coach Carlisle.

Like at SE Champs, every Viking swimmer who went scored points in the final – showing again that, though the team is smaller than most, the VSC can compete with any swimming program in the state.

Senior Sectionals

In early March the very best swimmers in the western United States went to the Seattle area to compete at the Senior Sectionals meet in Federal Way at the Goodwill Games pool.

The competition at this event is extreme.

Petersburg’s only qualifying swimmer was Preston Marsh.

“He swam really fast, but the competition was really fast too,” said Carlisle.

Marsh’s top finish was 25th place in the 100-freestyle.

His time in that event set an Alaska state record.

Though Marsh didn’t swim alongside any other VSC swimmers at the meet, his longtime rival Louis Bellay from Sitka qualified along with several girls from Juneau.

With these events done the winter competition season for the VSC has peaked and the Vikings have a lot to be proud of, especially looking to the future.

“Abel has stepped up, and the little guys coming up is good news too,” said Carlisle.

But the hard work for these swimmers doesn’t stop now.

“We still have Junior Olympics coming up at the end of April, and some kids are going to Ketchikan in mid-April for a non-qualifying meet,” said the coach.


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