FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For this week's Nanook Corner, we're going to focus on the University's Swim Team.
Since the 2018 School year started, the Alaska Nanook Swimming team has been preparing for their upcoming season. This swim season will officially begin on October 19th and the 20th with a meet against Azusa Pacific. Although they haven't competed in an official capacity yet, the Nooks did hold their Blue and Gold Pentathlon earlier this month, which saw the team split into two squads, who then competed against each other. Team gold won that exhibition, anchored by returning sophomore Oda Bygdnes, who won two events and set a new Blue vs Gold record with a 1 minute time in the 100 yard Individual Medley. The Nanooks, who will be led by head coach Scott Lemley for his 13th year at the helm, new associate head coach Rebecca Weiland, and their team captains Cassidy Kelly and West Valley Graduate Cassidy Heaton, are ready to get back into the pool.
"I would say that the atmosphere is very electric right now. We're pretty extatic to have our first meet of the year this weekend. Azusa Pacific is going to provide some really good competition for us this weekend," said Weiland.
"Everyone has been putting a lot of work in and I think we're going to have some really fast races this weekend," said Kelly.
"Everyone has had a great attitude and has been working very hard and I think everyone is just excited for our first dual meet of the season," said Heaton.
The Nanooks will not only have strong senior leadership and returning stars this year, they will also be bringing in a strong freshman class with many swimmers from right here in Alaska. North Pole's Jessica Williamson, Sitka's Whitney McArther, Anchorage's Wanlaya Jarupakorn, and Colony graduate Camille Dayton will all be new additions to the Nanooks this year who will be looking to make an impact.
"I'm looking forward to the new team dynamic and just have everyone be positive and excited all the time. It's been really great to be in it," said Kelly.
This year will see the end of an era, and the dawning of a new one. Scott Lemley, who has been coaching at the college, club, and high school levels for over 30 years, will be retiring after this season. Rebecca Weiland, the former All-American swimmer from the University of Minnesota, will be taking over the program.
"It's hard to put it into words. It's very exciting, it's really an experience so far just to be part of the Nanook Staff, being part of UAF Athletics, and being able to work with such an amazing group of girls," said Weiland.
That first meet against Azusa is this Friday at 6pm, and Saturday at noon.