It’s all a matter of pride, and working through each challenge one lap at a time for the members of the Scappoose High School (SHS) Swim Team.
The pandemic health and safety restrictions forced an abbreviated and adjusted 2021 season for the team’s members and its coaches. The Chronicle checked in with head coach David Richmond for his insight into how the team is taking this season in stride.
The Chronicle: Given the abbreviated season, what challenges do you see facing your team as they prepare and move into competition and how are you guiding the team through those challenges?
David Richmond: The list of challenges is long, but we are working through it. Not having our season during the typical winter months is a challenge. Many of the kids are committed to other activities and have started their summer jobs already. We were not able to get the word out about swimming like we usually are and pull as many kids into the mix. We graduated a lot of talent last year so we are really needing returning and new kids to step up. As well, we are condensing a lot of information and teaching into a very short window. Everything is expedited this year to accommodate for a shortened season.
The Chronicle: What will be your main focus in motivating your team?
Richmond: Many of the returning swimmers, especially the seniors are pleased to have the opportunity to enjoy the experience, albeit a shortened experience, but one last chance before they graduate. My hope is for the others it’s a chance to hone there skills a bit more and not have a totally lost year. There has been some noticeable improvement from the second year swimmers.
The Chronicle: What do you hope each team member takes away from their experience with the Scappoose High School swim team?
Richmond: First and foremost, positive memories. We focus on leadership, commitment, and teamwork. Swimming is the hardest sport out there and athletes take a sense of pride in the accomplishment of completing each season. There are many takeaways of life lessons that are going to be relevant for them as they move on into adulthood.
The Chronicle: What team members will be key to watch this season and why?
Richmond: Will Blair (Senior), Emma Jeppeson (Sophomore), Owen Reynolds (Senior), Colin Stafford (Sophomore), Amanda Walsh (Senior), Lyla Dubois (Senior), and Anna Cox (Junior). Will Blair is the most decorated swimmer in SHS history in my opinion, especially when you look at not just the individual but the team accomplishments during his tenure. He has been the lynchpin and a chief motivator of the unprecedented success of the program since 2018.
Bruce Templin (1970s) and Ryan Rafferty (2010-12) are the only other swimmers in the conversation but their success was more individual than all around and that’s what separates Will. Owen Reynolds returns as the second fastest breaststroker in program history and Colin Stafford is a talented all around swimmer who was the fastest freshman backstroker we have had during my tenure.
Emma Jeppesen leads the girl’s team this year as the fastest returning all around swimmer. I am excited to see what Emma can accomplish this year and moving forward. She has the potential to be one of the top 5 female swimmers of all time at SHS if she can continue to improve like she has and if she maintains her level of dedication to the sport. She is very talented and determined and she’s a ton of fun to be around. Amanda Walsh gives us a speedy weapon in any stroke. She is strong in sprints or distance and can give great efforts and times in all events.
Lyla Dubois is a strong backstroker and will be a key on the 200 medley relay as well this year on a team that finished 3rd at district last year. Anna Cox has put in a ton of time over the last two years and is a returning district finalist in the 500 freestyle.
The Chronicle: So far, what do you see as the strengthens and what do you see as the weaknesses in the team?
Richmond: We have some great experience and talent on the team, but we have a lot of new swimmers that are inexperienced. And while that’s exciting to see some talent we have to really hustle to condense their training and get them up to speed in a hurry to have them help contribute and have an impact on the team.
The Chronicle: What schools in the league do you see as strong competitors and why?
Richmond: On the boy’s and girl’s sides, just based on how they performed last year and what they could bring back this year, LaSalle likely has two strong teams. It’s hard to know though. Wilsonville, who traditionally has 70 kids out, has a quarter of that this year, so in a year that has been as unpredictable as it has been, I suppose we could see some of that impact the season in ways we may not have foresee otherwise. Regardless of the size of teams we see and talent they have, I fully believe our kids will bring it every week and I am looking forward to it.
Follow the team’s competitive swim meets at the osaa.org.