Special District Swimming Championships

Zat Kiska leads off the 400-yard freestyle relay Friday for Reedsport during the District 4 Swimming Championships at the North Bend Municipal Pool.

Kat Ziska scored the only points for Reedsport at the district swim meet over the weekend.

In a way, that was appropriate, because without Ziska’s efforts Reedsport never would have restored its swimming program.

As a freshman, she arrived in Reedsport from California, where she had competed in both swimming and water polo, and found neither. So her sophomore year she got to work on a process that led to the team being restored last winter.

“Kat shows up and says, ‘We are going to have it,’” Reedsport coach Guy Marchione said. “She fought through the administration, the school board, the AD.

“She’s gotten the program up. She’s been a major driving force. She’s always had a positive attitude.”

Ziska said it started with a letter to the superintendent and eventually included recruiting teammates and Marchione to be coach.

“At the beginning it was very hard,” she said. “I think the hardest part now is to keep it going. But I have my team and we will keep it going.”

Reedsport had enough swimmers this year to field a boys and a girls relay at the district meet, plus the individual races for the various students.

Both of the relays ended up being disqualified because a swimmer started their leg two early, but overall, Ziska viewed the weekend as a positive.

“I am very proud of my team,” she said. “I’m excited to see where this is going to go. I’m excited to see more young people stepping up and trying something new.”

Ziska placed for the Brave in the 50-yard freestyle, qualifying 12th out of more than 50 swimmers and ultimately placing 11th in a time of 31.88 seconds.

Reedsport had other swimmers advance to the second day of the meet in the bonus heat, with placings between 13th and 18th.

Sydney Robinson was 15th (3:04.16) and Kassie Diehl 16th (3:05.50) in the 200 freestyle, Diehl was 13th in the 500 freestyle (8:20.34) and Aidan Bright was 14th in the 100 breaststroke for boys (1:25.27).

Among those who didn’t advance, Elsa Frakes was 36th (37.510, Amy Hultman 47th (44.68), Madi Kay 50th (56.12) and Alexis Gillen 51st (1:01.53) in the 50 freestyle.

Robinson was 20th in the breaststroke (1:41.56).

For the boys, Nick Klier was 26th (29.60), Ben Fowler 36th (31.01) and Tommy Wolford 55th (59.34) in the 50 freestyle. Klier was 23rd (1:07.42), Bright 26th (1:10.14) and Wolford 43rd (2:06.74) in the 100 freestyle.

Marchione viewed the success of the swimmers as something to build on, especially since most of the kids Reedsport is swimming against grew up competing in club swimming.

“Last year, I taught them to swim competitively,” he said. “You look at the times, it’s just an amazing transformation.”

The future is bright, he said.

Marchione hopes to recruit more swimmers from Siuslaw to join Robinson, a sophomore who competes for the Brave as part of a cooperative agreement between the two schools.

The club program for students up to eighth grade now has more than 20 swimmers and continues to grow.

The Reedsport pool recently was given a bunch of equipment including lane lines, starting blocks and reels from Cottage Grove, which got a new pool facility — thousands of dollars of equipment to upgrade Reedsport’s facility.

And parents are showing more commitment to helping out, which should encourage the team to flourish, Marchione said.

The weekend was the next step in the process of growing the program at Reedsport.

“Everyone has improved tremendously,” Ziska said.

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