Perhaps the biggest goal for the Oak Harbor High School swim and dive team this season has already been achieved — to actually have a season.
With the uncertainty of the fate of John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool over the past year, having a team this winter was far from certain.
Interim coach John Chargualaf cited the work of Superintendent Lance Gibbons, Athletic Director Jerrod Fleury and Principal Dwight Lundstrom “for salvaging the girls and boys swim seasons.”
“I believe that Juli Leete, members of the North Whidbey Pool and Rec Commission and members of the community have also been instrumental in helping the swimmers have their own pool for practice and competition,” he added.
Chargualaf welcomes back eight lettermen from last year’s team that went 1-9: seniors Pablo Closson and Aaron Martinez; juniors Micah Franklin, Austin Galletta, Rylan Quiros and Andrew Lof; and sophomores Kyto Morrow, Samuel Noel and Lawrence Zapanta.
Key newcomers are seniors Ignacio Campos, Daimen Christensen, William Daylander, Sean Sone, and Joe Ralston; juniors Max Brighton, Michael Gomez and Ryon Clemena; sophomores Yuji Caballero, Arlen Hills, Cameron Hoppock, Chris Hoppock, Riley Pickett and Riley Williamson; and freshmen Sterling Basset, John Blankman, Evan Fishburn, Ezra Franklin and Austin Hoppock.
Chargualaf would like to see his swimmers achieve their personal and swimming goals.
His goal is “to develop pride, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence for all swimmers.”
“I also want the community to have a team that they can be proud of,” he said.
Chargualaf said his squad includes a number of swimmers with the potential to qualify for the state meet.
“We have swimmers who are new and have competitive swimming experience elsewhere,” he added. “We also have highly motivated swimmers who want to improve.”
Coach Amy Merkley is taking the season off for personal reasons, and Chargualaf would like to continue the growth of the program that Merkley established and help his athletes “be successful at every level of competition.”
Oak Harbor begins the season against Everett (5-9 last year) at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Forest Park Pool.
The home opener is 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, against Mount Vernon (6-4).