LAHAINA - Lahainaluna High School swimming coach Tom Popdan relies on a time-tested, goal-oriented training regimen in leading the Luna program with assistant Jen Wiseman. Two weeks ago, the Lunas rose to the occasion at the Maui Interscholastic League Swimming and Diving Championships behind the mentoring of their veteran coaches and posted their top efforts of the season.
The Lahainaluna team thus moved forward to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championships last weekend at the University of Hawaii at Manoa facility in Honolulu. The team tuned up for the state meet at the MIL Championships with what Coach Tom described as " an incredible effort at the MILs. These kids have a tremendous ability to peak when it matters most. They all swam like this, and they all did their best times of the season at this meet."
The Lady Lunas placed second at the MIL event behind the sterling effort of first-year swimmer Lexi Anderson, who won a gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley with a league record of time of 2:08.2, another first place in the 100 butterfly, swam a leg on the 200 medley relay team that won a silver, and swam a leg in the 200 free relay for a bronze.
Lahainaluna High School swimmers posted their best times of the season at the Maui Interscholastic League Swimming and Diving Championships.
Junior Alicia Wintermeyer also contributed in a big way with a second place finish in the 100 freestyle, a bronze in the 100 backstroke, and also swam a leg on the medley and freestyle events. Haley Bogar, another first-year student athlete, also excelled with her efforts in the two relay events and in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley.
Contributions to the team's effort also came from sophomore team captain Kyra Franz and classmate Isabella Omura, juniors Eva Olson and Nikki Zamani, and first-year swimmer Ava Merrill. Rounding out the 2017 roster were seniors Sydney Wagner and Taylor Panlasigui; juniors Nicole Slusser, Bella Menze and Leticia Ii Kahahane; and first-year athletes Ryli Cherry, Peyten Marten and Kaylin Olivera.
The Lahainaluna boys team was a "Lone Star" effort for the depleted roster. Standout Jared Gaastra won gold medals in the 100 free and 200 IM races to pace the Lunas to a sixth place tie with Maui Waldorf in the final team standings. Gaastra advanced to the state competition as a favorite to finish high in both events at the meet in Honolulu.
"This team bonded really well throughout the season and improved all the way through the year," said Coach Tom from the deck at the Lahaina Aquatic Center last week. "They are extremely close. And thanks to Jen (Wiseman) for taking care of all the behind the scenes stuff."
Both Popdan and assistant Wiseman praised the LAC lifeguards for keeping the facility in top shape and the parent support group - particularly Erica and Freddie Gaastra, Rondilyn and Steve Franz, Mindy Cherry and Ashley Merrill - for all of the help they've provided this year.