Defending district champions are working even harder this year

Early every weekday morning a clear strong voice can be heard around Ochoco Creek Park.

“Ready go — second group ready go — next group ready go,” rings out over and over again in the early morning hours.

For those wondering what’s going on, it’s the Prineville Swim Team; hard at work at their early morning practices.

The team has been practicing since May 15, despite cool temperatures and less than desirable practice LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Emma Hehn swims the butterfly stroke during a recent practice. The Prineville Swim Team opens their season with a home invitational next weekend. The team is one of the favorites to win the Cascade East District Championships.

The older age group begins practice daily at 5:30 a.m. with a second wave of swimmers entering the pool at 7:30 a.m.

“I’m really proud of all these kids,” said Head Coach Raquel Swain. “Because it takes a heck of a lot of dedication to get up on your summer vacation at 5 o’clock in the morning and be in the pool by 5:30.”

Prineville Swim Team is the defending Cascade East District champions. The team won the title last year by more than 90 points. Still, Swain has upped the ante this year. The older swimmers on the team had 90 minute practices last year. This year they are spending two hours in the pool. Not only are they spending more time in the pool, the intensity level of practice has also ratcheted up, as has the talent level.

“The 15-18 age group in both boys and girls is pretty strong,” said Head Coach Raquel Swain during a recent practice. “We don’t have a lot of 13-14 year-olds but our 11-12 is pretty solid and then 10 and under we have some good swimmers in that group that are pretty exciting to watch.”

Now, after more than a month of hard practices the team is finally getting ready for their first swim meet of the year. The season starts next weekend with the Prineville Invitational. Swimming starts Friday evening at 6 p.m. with the 200-meter freestyle races and a 400 individual medley race. Races continue Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. and will conclude early Sunday LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Carson Raymond practices his freestyle stroke during a recent practice. Raymond is one of a strong core of older swimmers who expect to score big points for the Prineville Swim Team this year.

Following the home meet there is a short break in the schedule for the Fourth of July, then the season kicks into high gear.

“We don’t have anything that weekend but then after that is when our season really gets going,” Swain said.

The team travels to Lakeview July 11-13, Burns the 17th to 19th, and John Day the following week. The season ends the first weekend of August with the district meet back in Burns.

If the team has any weaknesses it's a shortage of numbers. This year’s squad has just 35 members. Still, although Swain would be happy to have more swimmers, she is pleased with the talent that she has.

“I’m really proud of these kids,” she said. “They are dedicated and working hard. I think we are going to make a big splash.”

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