Sadie Johnson kind of christened the water Friday night in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center pool.
The West Valley High School sophomore was one of the first two swimmers to compete in the first meet of the Region VI regular season.
Johnson was the first leg for West Valley’s C squad in the first heat of the first event of the season, the girls 200-yard medley relay. Johnson and teammates Rebecca Lent, Addisen Greenwell and Alexandra Asher combined for a fifth-place overall finish of 2 minutes, 35.01 seconds.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Johnson said of being among the first competitors in the first high school meet of 2019.
She was prepared, too, long before a horn signaled the start of the medley relay’s first of three heats.
“I’ve been swimming since I was 4,” said Johnson, “so the psychological part of it isn’t much for me, because I’ve been through so much.
“It’s certainly a lot of training because it’s the first meet of the season. So you’ve got to train really hard for it.”
Seniors Derick Johnson, of North Pole, and Victoria Schachle, of Monroe Catholic, each had a different focus for the last regular-season opener of their high school swimming careers.
They also were coming off junior seasons in which they captured titles at the Region VI Championships at the Hamme Pool and advanced to the state meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.
Johnson won the boys 200 freestyle at the region championship meet. Schachle earned the region title in the girls 100 backstroke.
“I was out for the summer. So my focus of this meet is to reestablish my strokes and find my rhythm again,” Johnson said after placing third Friday in the boys 200 individual medley in 2:17.95.
Schachle said that, because it’s her last year of high school swimming, she “might as well give it all I’ve got.”
The Rams standout, who placed second Friday in the girls 50 freestyle in 26.87 seconds, had a few other things on which to focus in the season opener.
“Focus on being positive and getting my team positive for the rest of the season,” she said, “and just setting myself up good for the season.”
Coaches also had ways of approaching the meet.
Kris Haggland was coaching the Wolfpack in a meet for the first time this season. The current West Valley art teacher and former University of Washington swimmer took over for longtime coach Bryan Mitchell, who guided the Wolfpack to a sweep of last year’s team titles at the Region VI Championships.
“We’re just working together as a team and they’re working hard in practice right now,” Haggland said. “They’re swimming the best they can in the meet and having fun.”
North Pole head coach Robert Vollmer saw Friday’s opener as a way for the Patriots swimmers to build for the rest of the season.
“Many of the swimmers have been out of the water two to three weeks prior to our first practice,” he said Friday during a break after the first half of the meet.
“Many of the swimmers have also been out all summer. So this swim meet is both about the coaches as well as the swimmers getting their sea legs under them.”
He had expectations, too.
“My expectations are dramatic improvement over time throughout the season and increasing the greater number of personal-best times. We already have several personal-best times tonight, which is absolutely amazing. I’m thrilled to death about it.”
The Patriots, he said, had three personal-best efforts through the first half of the meet.
West Valley placed first Friday in the combined, girls and boys team standings. The Wolfpack had 250 points among the combined totals, and registered 136 in the girls standings and 114 in the boys compilations.
The Hutchison Hawks were second in the combined totals with 125.5, followed by the Lathrop Malemutes (73), North Pole (72), Monroe Catholic (18) and Eielson Ravens (3.5).
Lathrop was second in the girls standings with 54 and Hutchison was third with 46. North Pole took fourth with 37 and Monroe was fifth with 18.
Hutchison was the boys runner-up with 79.5 points and North Pole was third with 35. Lathrop compiled 19 points for fourth place and Eielson had 3.5 for fifth place.
Results of the meet are scheduled to be published Monday.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.