In swimming, hundredths of a second can be the difference between winning gold and not standing on the podium at all. Friday's SoHi Pentathlon was no different. Just two-hundredths of a second separated the first- and second-place girls while 17-hundredths was the difference in the boys race.
Kodiak sophomore Jori Lindquist edged last year's pentathlon winner, Olivia Bowen of Soldotna, for the 2010 title. Lindquist recorded a total time of 3 minutes, 11-hundredths of a second, to Bowen's 3:00.13 for the meet's five events -- the 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke and 50 freestyle. Kenai Central senior Winter Heaven won the boys title with a time of 2:34.82. Seward's Ryan O'Leary finished in second with a time of 2:34.99.
"I knew it was gonna be close," Bowen said. "I'm really happy for Jori. It's an honor for her to win it as an underclassman."
"I'm pretty excited," Lindquist said. "I was trying hard to (win). I knew it was gonna be really hard, so I tried to swim really fast."
Bowen and Lindquist battled back and forth all day. After coming in nearly half a second behind Lindquist in the 100 IM, Bowen beat her by more than a second in the 50 butterfly. Lindquist beat Bowen in the backstroke -- her favorite event -- and Bowen came out on top in the breaststroke. Lindquist won the pentathlon in the final event, the 50 freestyle, finishing nearly seven-tenths of a second faster than Bowen.
Lindquist said she knew she had to catch Bowen in the final race. Lindquist's strategy was to give more attention to her slower events.
"I knew which ones were my weak ones, so I focused on those, trying to go faster," she said.
Bowen, who was hoping to defend her pentathlon title as a senior, said she made some minor errors in her technique, which cost her valuable time.
Kodiak had four girls finish in the top 10 and seven in the top 13 of 91 swimmers to win the team title with 69 points to runner-up Soldotna's 28. No one school dominated the boys side. Kenai, SoHi, Seward, Homer and Kodiak had two swimmers each in the top 10 of 74 participants. This allowed the tiny Seward team to pull off a win in the team category, scoring 33 points to Kodiak's 30, Kenai's 29, Soldotna's 26 and Homer's 24.
Most athletes approached the day one event at a time.
"My coach told me to take each race by itself," Bowen said. "I try to go all out on all of them."
"You definitely just take it one swim at a time," Heaven said. "Go all out each time."
"These sprint events are more mental than physical," O'Leary said. "If you don't think you're gonna swim well, you won't."
Bowen, Heaven and Lindquist all agreed.
"You definitely have to focus on what you're trying to do, and definitely not psyche yourself out with your competition," Lindquist said.
"It's a real mental race," Heaven said. "You have to learn to stay relaxed."
Heaven pulled away from O'Leary in the backstroke. He swam a 25.21 to O'Leary's 26.06. Though O'Leary beat Heaven by more than four-tenths of a second in the breaststroke, Heaven edged him by four-hundredths of a second in the final event to claim the title.
"I was pretty excited," Heaven said. "The pentathlon is always a good meet."
O'Leary echoed those sentiments.
"You just get psyched up for this meet," he said. "It's just a blast. The energy in the building is off the hook."
Both seniors, Heaven and O'Leary are no strangers to each other.
"We've been rivals for a few years now," O'Leary said.
"Ryan is a good competitor," Heaven said. "We're always battling it out."
Though he wanted to win, O'Leary was happy with his performance.
"This is the best I've ever done," he said. "I had good swims. I can't be disappointed."
Heaven said he wanted to win the event in his final time competing in it.
"I've been looking at winning it my entire high school career," he said. "I'm glad I could pull it off."
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