Heaven sets new state mark: Soldotna swimmer cruises in 200 fly

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Winter Heaven, who will be a junior at Soldotna High School during the upcoming school year, broke a state swimming record from 1993 at the Final Fling in Homer on July 10 and 11.

Heaven, swimming for the Soldotna Silver Salmon, swam the 200-yard butterfly in 1 minute, 57.47 seconds, to beat the 1:58.23 posted by Robin Blume-Kohout back in 1993.

Sterling's Judy Lallier, who has been training the 15-year-old Heaven this summer, said Heaven's record is deserved because he has been swimming twice each day and putting in an hour each day of dry-land training.

"He is so in shape right now," Lallier said.

Lallier was an alternate on the 1976 U.S. Olympic swimming team. Three years ago, she started spending her summers on the Kenai Peninsula and immediately got involved in the area swimming scene.

The first year, she was an assistant coach with the Silver Salmon. Last year, when coach Sohail Marey spent the summer in Israel, Lallier served as the coach of the Silver Salmon.

This summer, Heaven and some others wanted to train independently. The group of six decided to train with Lallier, but still compete for the Silver Salmon.

"They all swam out of their minds," Lallier said of the performance at the Final Fling meet. "They did so well."

In addition to winning the 200 butterfly, Heaven also won the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

Lallier said Heaven will be tough in all those events in the upcoming high school season, but that his ultimate goal is the state record in the 100 butterfly -- a time of 49.19 put up by Juneau-Douglas' Cody Brunette in 2008. Heaven's immediate goal is a strong performance at the Senior Sectional Championships, which are being held today through Saturday in Gresham, Ore.

Alena Newgren, a 14-year-old who will be attending Soldotna and also trains with Lallier, also had a solid meet. She won the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.

Also for the Silver Salmon, 15-year-old Christian Carrico had his best time in the 100 breaststroke, 13-year-old Keelyn Heaven made her age-group cuts in all six events and 8-year-old Savaii Heaven won the 25 freestyle, butterfly and backstroke.

Ryan O'Leary, a 17-year-old from Seward who also trains with Lallier, won the 100 breaststroke, defeating Winter Heaven and Carrico.

"I really want to state how proud of them I am," Lallier said. "I couldn't ask for a better bunch of kids."

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