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Lakers hoping for big things from a much smaller team

by: FILE PHOTO / VERN UYETAKE, 
Alex Lyons is one of the leaders for the Lake Oswego boys swim team this year. Lyons is a strong freestyler and swims the butterfly. The Lakers only have 11 boys out for the team this year but should still compete well at districts and state later in the year.

The Lake Oswego swim team is currently suffering from something it hasn't experienced in years: Low numbers.

Many talented swimmers have opted to swim primarily for their club teams which has left the high school squads in a bit of a bind early in the season.

'More than I would like have opted to swim for club and I think that's really too bad,' said coach Karl von Tagen.

Currently only 11 boys are out for the team and, in the Lakers' first dual meet against Clackamas, only five boys were able to swim.

The Laker boys still have plenty of talent and a handful of swimmers who could make some waves at state this season.

Leading the way for Lake Oswego will be Alex Lyons and Michael Sayer.

'Those are the two who are really carrying us right now,' von Tagen said.

Lyons is a terrific freestyler and swims the butterfly while Sayer is the defending district champion in the breaststroke.

'They've both really improved and are looking good,' von Tagen said.

The team has also been very impressed with senior Pryce Waites who is joining the Laker swim team for the first time this year. Waites is a talented rower but is already one of the team's fastest swimmers.

'He has so much talent we just have to harness it. In his first race he swam a 23.9 in the 50 free,' von Tagen said.

Also returning for the Laker boys are Kevin O'Leary who is solid in the freestyle and the backstroke and Jono Friedman, a breaststroker and freestyler.

'Both of those guys are solid and we should get some points from them,' von Tagen said.

The girls team is much larger than the boys but also lost some talent from last year.

Leading the way this year will be Christina Turner and Kelsey Rueppel, two tremendous freestyle swimmers.

'Kelsey has been down in the 25's (in the 50 free) and she's really moving,' von Tagen said.

Clarice Mottet has also been impressive early in the season. She is one of the team's more versatile swimmers and is most solid in the individual medley.

'She can do about anything,' von Tagen said.

Marina Howard, a specialist in the butterfly is also returning along with Ilse Paanakker, one of the team's better sprinters.

This year's team captain is Emily Hawley, a strong breaststroker.

The Lakers opened their dual meet schedule with a pair of losses to a very strong and improved Clackamas squad but Lake Oswego was far from fielding a full line-up.

'We had a ton of kids gone with other school commitments. To be as close as we were with five guys was pretty good and I think we would have done a lot better if we'd had all of our girls,' von Tagen said.

The weather has wreaked havoc on the Lakers' schedule and the team hopes to continue getting into the pool for practice this week. Its meet on Tuesday was canceled.

'It's been a bit maddening so far but we're doing the best we can,' von Tagen said.

In league, the Lakers should receive very strong competition from Lakeridge. The Pacer girls are the defending league champions while the Laker boys have their work cut out for them to defend last season's district title.