The senior's victory in the girls 100-yard butterfly race highlights the Cougars' home meet against West Linn.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Kendra Olsen prepares to break the surface of the water during the girls 100-yard backstroke race Jan. 9. The senior placed second in the event, and the Canby swimming team won on the boys side but lost the girls competition.Kendra Olsen wasn’t going to let the girls’ loss keep her from focusing on the good that came out of the Canby swimming team’s meet against West Linn.

“We’re usually pretty lively,” the senior said after the Jan. 9 meet at Canby Swim Center. “We’re pretty connected. It’s like a family — we try to make it like that. The next day, we always take about the meet and say, ‘These guys did well. We all did really well.’ We play games in the pool. We try to keep everything positive.”

Olsen provided one of the highlights for the Cougars, logging their only victory on the girls side with a time of 1 minute 7.42 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly race. She edged Lions runner-up Maxi Muessig (1:08.39) by less than a second.

And although Canby came away with a 126-41 defeat in girls competition, it snagged a 102-68 victory over West Linn on the boys side thanks to several standout performances.

For Olsen, who specializes in the fly and backstroke races, it took a year away from swimming in eighth grade to rejuvenate her love for the sport. She had been in a pool regularly since she was 8 years old.

“It became a chore for me because I had been doing it for so long,” she said. “When I came back, I had a new appreciation for it.”

Through involvement with the high school and Canby Gators club teams, Olsen has become one of the most talented female swimmers for the Cougars.

Olsen placed second in the 100 back, clocking a 1:06.88 to finish behind Lions standout Laura Laderoute (1:01.15). She also swam legs for the 200 medley and 400 free relay squads.

Her pool performances offer additional evidence of her important role on the team this year, coach Eric Laitinen said.

“Kendra has really taken on being a team captain and a team leader,” Laitinen said. “And I think that’s played into her swimming. She feels that, because she’s the leader, she needs to do that.”

On the boys side, Ryan Cully won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races with times of 22.67 and 50.31 seconds.

Christian Meza won the 100 breaststroke with a 1:11.64, and Cole DeRisio took first in the 200 individual medley with a 2:12.63.

Cully, DeRisio and Meza joined Chayse Gillespie to snag top honors in the 200 free relay with a 1:37.32. The trio teamed up with Michael Haring to win the 400 free relay in 3:37.82.

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