Forest Grove girls swimmers have broken six long-standing school records this year

Forest Grove swimming coach Tabor Waterstreet grew up watching his father, Paul Waterstreet, coach the Vikings’ boys and girls varsity swim teams. After Paul Waterstreet stepped down last year, following more than two decades of service, Tabor took over the program.

Having watched his father coach for so long — and also developing his own skills as a coach during two seasons leading the Forest Grove JV team — Tabor Waterstreet was ready for the challenge of stepping into his father’s shoes.

“It’s a really neat position,” he said. “I was the JV coach for two years before this. So watching him coach, it was good to learn what he did and see how he interacted with the kids and how things went and the things that I could mirror from him and the things that I could change — things that were different ideas than I had.

“It was a very smooth transition for the parents of the team and the kids of the team to have me come in with a lot of the same traits as my dad. A lot of the kids can really respond and relate to a lot of that. The transition part went really well. And for me, it’s all fun and exciting and I just really enjoy being out there.”

In his first season, Waterstreet has taken both the boys and the girls swim teams to new heights of excellence.

“The program has been very successful compared to the past few years,” Waterstreet said. “The boys have almost posted the best record that they’ve had in just about a decade. They’re doing really well. The girls have broken all of the relay records that have been held since back in the ‘70s.

“So this team is pretty fast, pretty well built, we have some good depth, not just with our top swimmers, but going down the line we have some kids who are backup swimmers and are good at pulling in the points that we need. We have a couple first-year swimmers that are doing amazing, so that really helps out a lot.”

Historically, the Forest Grove girls swim team has not been competitive. Over an 18-year period, from 1984 to 2002, the girls did not score a single point at the state meet.

This year, though, the Lady Vikings have become a formidable Pacific Conference team. The girls are being led by senior Vera Hutchison, juniors Prudence Rooker, Oriene Shiel and sophomores Alondra Martinez and Jessica Bohms.

“The girls are all kind of coming into their own,” Waterstreet said. “We’re fortunate enough this year to gain a couple swimmers we didn’t have these last couple of years. All the girls are really working well together. Once again, we’ve added a lot of depth. That’s really helped. It’s really good to have backup swimmers.

“Now, we’re just at a point where they’ve all come to a peak together and it’s all firing at the same time. The timing is right and we’re just going to keep rolling with it.”

The Viking boys are also performing well this season, led by seniors Charles Morse, Tim Sandage, August Peverly and Owen Shiel.

“They’ve all been swimming together for quite a while,” Waterstreet said. “They’re all coming into their own. We have a lot of seniors on the team this year and they’re getting to the pinnacle of their high school season.

“They’ve grown with each other and they understand each other really well. They understand how each other swims, and when you have that kind of bond it really helps to develop their individual swimming which can also help the relays.”

Looking ahead to the Pacific Conference district championship at McMinnville Aquatic Center this weekend, Waterstreet sees both the girls and the boys teams competing for a district championship.

“The girls and the boys have a really good shot at winning districts,” Waterstreet said. “With the power and the speed that we have along with the depth of swimmers that we have, this is one of our best chances to win districts.

“My expectations are to either be at the top or be in second place. At the very least, I want whoever does win districts — if it’s not us — to know that we were there and they had to work their butts off in order to earn that spot.”

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