Lahaina Swim Club members achieve lifetime best runs at state meet
LAHAINA – Lahaina Swim Club continues as the “little club that could.”
Although small in numbers and dwarfed by the behemoths on Oahu and here on Maui as well, LSC – under the coaching of veteran Tom Popdan, Jen Wiseman and Popdan’s summertime replacement, Kirsten Byers, in recent years (he returns to his hometown in New Jersey and works as a lifeguard there) – once again surged to personal best times to place ninth out of 18 clubs at the Hawaii Age Group Long Course State Championships held last month on Oahu.
Lahaina Swim Club was led by the standout efforts of Lexi Anderson and Mathew Iverson, along with teammates Max Cherry, Noelle Sheveland, Yuna Lee, Ken Lee, Mason Alexander, Alicia Wintermeyer, Slater Fleck and Danna Hernandez.
“All of these kids swam lifetime bests at the state meet,” beamed Coach Kirsten, a former collegiate swimmer at UCLA and lifetime competitor at Federal Way, Washington. She is now a teacher in Tacoma during the school year and a coach here in Lahaina from June through August.
“We set a team goal of bettering our times by 100 seconds; we took 150 seconds off our times on Oahu. Coach Tom has set a great foundation here, and the kids are a pleasure to coach.”
Ten-year-old Iverson shone brightly at the state meet and won the High Point Division Trophy with gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100 free, 200 free and 50 backstroke events. He also finished second in the 50 butterfly, won a bronze medal in the 200 individual medley, placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke and finished fifth in the 50 breaststroke.
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Anderson won medals for third in the 50 fly, third in the 100 fly, fourth in the 100 backstroke and fifth in the 200 fly. Both she and Iverson thus qualified for the Western Zone Championships held Aug. 5-9 at the Kihei Aquatic Center.
Competing for the Hawaii team at the highly rated event, Iverson and Anderson helped their teammates capture ninth place out of the 18 teams at the event and also win the Team Spirit and Sportsmanship Award.
Youth teams from the western United States – including Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and California – descended upon South Maui for the five-day event that showcased the swimming of over 700 competitors ages six to 16.
“It was really amazing to see an event of this magnitude happen here on Maui,” commented Coach Kirsten. “There were over 200 volunteers – mostly from the Maui Age Group Swimming organization – on-hand to run and officiate the meet. For the kids, it’s an important step toward moving ahead and trying to compete at higher levels on the Mainland and at meets coming up like the Hawaii Age Group Short Course State Championships in Kona in December. The club can now set their goals to fundraise to go to the big meets.”
Byers praised the leadership of the LSC led by longtime President Paula Pope, Vice President Jen Wiseman, Secretary Gina Iverson, Treasurer JD Sheveland and Director Kari Alexander.
“It is truly a pleasure to work with these people, and I feel privileged to have their help here in Lahaina,” said Coach Kirsten from poolside last week at the Lahaina Aquatic Center. “We are extremely thankful to the County of Maui and the lifeguard staff here for keeping the facility in top shape throughout the year.”
She added that registration for the short course season will begin on Sept. 9. All interested families should contact any LSC member at the pool for further information or call (808) 268-2903.