Summer Swim Season culminates with Safford Finals

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Kaylen Minor pulls her way to a first-place finish for Pima in the girls’ 13-14 breaststroke event at the Summer Swim Team Finals on Saturday at Safford Pool.

By Jon Johnson

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima’s Layla Batty gets a good start to the girls’ 9-10 backstroke.

SAFFORD – Early morning hours spent traveling to and in a pool, days spent sweltering at qualifying meets, and money spent on special shampoo to change little blonde hair back to gold from green all culminated at the Safford Pool on Saturday morning as the Summer Swim Team Season ended with the area finals. 

Teams from Safford, Morenci, Thatcher, and Pima battled in four previous swim meets to see which eight swimmers would qualify in each event. The summer swim team runs from roughly June to mid-July and is the community swim team season.

It all culminated with finals on Saturday, as swimmers from 6 years old up to 18 swam their stuff to the delight of the relatives and fans poolside.  

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima’s Josie Peterson did her best Michael Phelps/Mark Spitz impersonation (choose your own generation) and was chosen at the Gila Herald’s Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet with 6 gold medals in individual events and two first-place ribbons in team relays.

While several outstanding swimmers rose above the rest, Josie Peterson, of Pima, was selected as the Gila Herald’s Swimmer of the Meet by winning a gold medal in each individual event (6) and taking first place in both of the team relays. 

Josie just out-touched teammate Avalon Johnson in the girls’ 11-12 butterfly and breaststroke events, and completely decimated the competition in the backstroke, freestyle, 100-freestyle, and individual medley. The Pima girls freestyle relay easily cruised to a first-place finish, and the medley relay team lapped its closest competition. 

Josie’s mother Michele Peterson said while Josie was initially apprehensive about competing she found joy in seeing her time improve and ultimately made the plunge to publicly battle her competition. Michele said she is impressed with her daughter’s work ethic, drive, and determination. 

“I am super proud of her for the dedication she has in the pool and also at home on her own with her self-motivated workouts,” Michele Peterson said.

Other outstanding swimmers from the meet included Quinton Wiltbank, of Morenci, in the boys 15 and up age group; Erynn Johnson, of Safford, in the girls 13-14 age group, and Tony Boswell, of Pima, in the boys 13-14 age group; all won multiple gold medals.    

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci’s Quinton Wiltbank smoked the competition in each race he entered.

Second-year Pima Head Swim Team Coach Rebecca Johnson helped to organize the meet and expressed her happiness in seeing the joy the swimmers exude when they improve.  

“It’s exciting and fulfilling as a coach, watching the kids improve their swimming abilities and speed over the swim season,” Rebecca Johnson said. “I am grateful our communities come together each year to make this happen every summer. These kids work hard during their summer break.” 

Jon Jonson Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci’s Nuel Kudadiri does his best butterfly.

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