The swimmers took their marks, toes and fingers curling around the block, heads down and ready. As the starting signal cut the silence over the pool, the swimmers pounced, taking flight for the water. Their hands sliced the surface and then they were out of sight, nothing more than a glimmer of orange and black below the waves.
For a brief moment, the Molalla Aquatic Center was quiet again. Then the swimmers surfaced, carrying the momentum of the dive into the stroke. The room filled with sound.
For the spectators, sitting in the bleachers next to the pool, the sound was loud, chaotic, a mix of thrashing water and cheering. But below the surface the swimmers have a different experience, a calmer one.
Its white noise, said Stuart Moore, who swims for Molalla High School. Its like bubbles around your head, he said. You tune it out.
Along with tuning out the noise, once Moore hits the water he tunes out his thought as well. I just sort of black out, he said. He tries to focus only on where hes at in the lane and his lungs.
For Moore, he said the lung power for swimming is different than that required for other sports, like running.
Moore isnt a runner, he said. You think [running] would be easier because theres air all around you. For him, its not.
When hes in the water, holding his breath, he said hell let a few bubbles out. You start to fool yourself into thinking youre breathing, he said.
On Wednesday, Molalla hosted Corbett High School and Riverdale High School. Moore swam a 2:10 in the 200 freestyle, and a 5:51.5 in the 500 freestyle. Almost eight seconds better than his 500 freestyle time last year, he said.
Molallas other swimmers are also doing well this year. Mitchell Hagler took first in the 50 freestyle at Wednesdays meet, with a time of 27.96 seconds, and in the 100 freestyle, with a time of 1:04.82.
Darren Early took third in the 50 freestyle, with a time of 31.68, and second in the 100 freestyle, with a time of 1:13.46.
Steven Chicas took fifth in the 50 freesyle, with a time of 33.37, and fourth in the 100 freestyle, with a time of 1:16.57.
Killian Ramirez placed second in the 100 butterfly, at 1:21.54, and fourth in the 100 breast stroke, with a time of 1:29.41.
Molallas boys relay teams took first in the 200 and 400 free relay.
As a team, Molallas boys placed second, with 82 points. Corbett was just ahead of them, with 87 points, and Riverdale took third, with 14 points.
On the girls side, the team swam strong, racking up 112 points and taking first place. Corbetts girls slid in second, with 106 points, and Riverdale took third, with 37 points.
Individually, Molalla had many swimmers place. Megan Penni took second in the 200 freestyle, with a time of 2:35, and Carolyn Botsford took third, with a time of 3:02.43.
Calley Baker placed second in the 200 individual medley, with a time of 2:57.
Four of Molallas girls placed in the 50 freestyle. Kayla Watkins took third, 29:35, Jenny Powell fourth, 31.41, Suzy Botsford fifth, 32.51, and Mercedes Helberg sixth, 36.32.
Kirstin Glenn placed second in the 100 butterfly, 1:33.7, followed by Carolyn Botsford, 1:34.95.
Watkins also took second in the 100 freestyle, 1:05.16. Penni came in fifth in that race, 1:10.85, and Kyleigh Price placed eighth, 1:23.36.
Casey McGuire and Mercedes Helberg competed against each other in the 500 freestyle and only swam one second apart at 8:15.9 and 8:16.93, respectively.
In the 100 backstroke, Glenn took third, 1:26.64, Powell fourth, 1:29.2, and McGuire seventh, 1:46.64.
Suzy Botsford landed third in the 100 breast stroke, 1:35.32, Baker fourth, 1:35.32, and Price sixth, 1:43.95.
Rainier Invitational results, Jan. 24
La Salle: 556
Valley Catholic: 427
La Salle: 602
Valley Catholic: 191