MOSES LAKE — For Moses Lake freestylers Cora Dana and Lacy Johnson, Thursday's Senior Night at the Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams was more like the end of an era than one last Columbia Basin Big Nine dual with Eastmont.
The Chiefs (3-3, 3-3 CBBN) won six of 14 events, but dropped a 102-84 decision to the Wildcats (4-1-1, 4-1-1) in the final dual of the regular season. They'll swim at the Big Nine meet and again at the District 6 meet. But there's a sense of finality for the two Moses Lake seniors who have been steady 4A state qualifiers over their swim careers.
Dana has been one of the CBBN's top freestylers since coming out of Manta Ray Aquatics into high school swimming four years ago. Interestingly enough, her final swim on Senior Night was the backstroke where she swam face up for the first time in her career and ended up contributing second-place points to the final tally. Dana clocked 1 minute, 10.23 seconds in her first and probably only backstroke.
Looking forward, there's a nursing career on the horizon for Dana. Looking back, swimming has been her life for nine of her 18 years.
“I swam a lot of club with Manta Rays, but high school swimming showed me what swimming was about. In high school it's a team effort with relays and everybody contributing,” said Dana, who has competed at the 4A state meet twice as an individual and once on a relay. “I would say I peaked as a swimmer at age 14, but it's been fun all along. I never would have met Jaydyn Johnson, who's been my best friend for years.
“I never would have been a part of this team. Swimming is so underestimated as a sport. People don't know what it takes to be committed to the sport. That's what make this so cool is that everybody out here knows what it takes to compete. That's why we support each other so much and care about each other.”
Dana won the 50-yard freestyle (26.98) and helped lead the Chiefs to a winning swim in the 200 relay (1:50.64) with Johnson, Jessica Williams, Laurel Knox. That same team was second in the medley (2:03.96).
For Johnson, who's off to Boise State next fall, it's been an interesting run. She had never swam competitively before she joined the team as a freshman. Once she found out she was pretty good at it, she stayed the course. Johnson has qualified for the state meet twice as an alternate and last season she had a chance to compete at the highest level.
“That was pretty intense. I was a lot more nervous than I was as an alternate,” she said about her state experience. “I've always loved the water, but I'd never done it competitively. But I'm a pretty competitive person and I like push myself against other athletes.
“Swimming started out as a question mark and then I fell in love with it. I might train a little bit when I'm at college. But when this season is over, I'm done.”
Bethany Bateman ran away with the diving, posting a score of 222.55 points. Knox won the 200 (2:09.68). Brittney Richeson won the 500 freestyle (5:54.42).
The Chiefs are back in the pool on Oct. 18 for the Big Nine meet.