When Joyce Follis took the helm four years ago, the Kona Dolphins were in danger of running into turbulent times competitively.
The swimming club was undergoing turnover at the top age group with little in the way off preteen talent waiting in the wings to fill the void.
That’s when Follis created what she likes to refer to as her “10-and-under rock stars,” because “we knew we would have to build from the younger generation up and that was our focus.”
Now the only turbulence associated with the Dolphins comes from the furious swimming they do in the pool. X Rose may not have achieved rock star status yet, but he was one of the showstoppers at the Hawaii long course championships that were held in Maui two weekends ago, taking home top point-scoring honors in the 11-12 age division with five gold medals.
Follis has the plan, but Rose executed it because “every time he steps up on the block he steps up to win and knows the exact race strategy to accomplish that,” she said. “He also truly loves racing and trains extremely hard to reach his goals. The performance at states had an entire year of training physically and mentally behind it.”
Rose broke the state record in the 50-yard breaststroke, touching in 33.10 seconds, and along with winning the 100 breaststroke he also claimed three freestyle races (the 50, 100 and 200).
He earned 143 points at the four-day meet, and the only competitor to score higher in an age group was Kamehameha Swim Club’s Grace Monahan, a 15-year-old who ripped through the girls 15-18 field with 158 points.
Rose also silvered in the 200 breaststroke and an individual medley.
“In the last year X has grown tremendously as an athlete and has become even more strategic in his racing,” Follis said. “It’s exciting to watch him go from a 9-year-old kid just swimming as fast and as hard as he can to a state champion who plans out his races with his coaches and works hard to stick to the plan for each event.”
The Dolphins brought eight swimmers to Maui and were handicapped in the club race because they were unable to compete in relays, finishing 12th. Kona Aquatics, paced by Duke Becker (second in boys 13-14), led the Big Island contingent in 10th and Academy Swim Club was 11th.
X Rose led the gold rush, but younger sister Ana Rose scored points for versatility.
Ana Rose notched a top-three finish in all four disciplines and the IM and was the second-highest point scorer in the 9-10 division. She took gold in the free and butterfly.
“We spoke a lot about how, if she puts in the work, she will be one of the best 200 IMers in the state as she gets older,” Follis said. “It’s fun to watch swimmers come into themselves. We can spot early on athletes’ strengths and weaknesses, but Ana is an unusual case as, so far, she can swim any and every event and place top three. She will be one to watch as she gets older.”
The reigning Hawaii high school 200 IM girls champion is Monahan, who relegated Waiakea’s Korrie Tengan to silver at the state championships in February.
Form held on Maui.
Swimming for Warrior Aquatic Club, Tengan silvered in two IMs and won bronze in a breaststroke and was fifth in the 15-18 girls division.
“She really pushes me to do better,” Tengan said of Monahan, a powerhouse who swims for University School on Oahu during the high school season.
Joining the Rose siblings in winning individual gold from the Big Island were Becker, the Kona Dolphins’ Weylin Foo and Ethan Ng, Academy Swim Club’s Kekai Haines and Hilo Aquatic Club’s Kai Hayashida.
Kailua-Kona’s two clubs have been forced to do most of their training in the ocean since Kona Community Aquatic Club closed indefinitely for repairs in March.
“We’re not slower,” Becker said, “but we’re also not faster. It would have been nice to have a pool.”
Still, Becker captured six golds, winning his best long course event, the 100 breaststroke, as well as the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM, and he was part of three relay victories.
The relay victories in the 400 free and 400 medley were fun, Becker said, because they came at the expense of Kamehameha, the Oahu behemoth that dominates these biannual championships year in and year out.
“Even swimmers from other teams were coming up to us and telling us it was fun watching us beat Kamehameha,” said Becker, who recently turned 15.
In boys 15-18, Foo touched first in 100 and 200 butterfly as well as the 200 IM; Ng claimed the 9-10 50 backstroke and was fourth in his age group; Haines took the 400 IM in 11-12; and in a race in which the Big Island took the top three spots on the podium, Hayashida outswam Kona Aquatics’ Aiden Ankrum and Nolan Morton in the 13-14 800 free, placing fourth in his age group.
Of course, swimming clubs don’t exist solely to chase gold medals.
Big Blue Swimming coach Dorothy Staskawicz said Carly Dossett became the first swimmer from the 5-year-old club in Puna to medal. The 10-year finished fifth in the 50 breaststroke.
“I think she has a really nice work ethic and a really nice disposition,” Staskawicz said. “I think any kid can go far with the right support.”
Top three-finishers from the Big Island at the Hawaii age group long course championships, July 18-21 in Kihei, Maui:
Boys 13-14 800 Meter freestyle relay
2. Kona Aquatics, 8:57.26 ( Nolan Morton, YoHan Choi, Aiden Ankrum, Duke Becker)
Boys 13-14 1500 freestyle
3 Aiden Ankrum, Kona Aquatics, 18:14.10
Boys 11-12 400 individual medley
1. Kekai Haines, Academy Swim Club, 5:57.56
Boys 11-12 400 freestyle relay
3. Academy Swim Club, 4:52.17 (Hulton Chicoine, Kaiea Hudgins, Coleson Pouoa, Kekai Haines)
Boys 13-14 400 freestyle relay
1. Kona Aquatics, 4:02.54 (Nolan Morton, Aiden Ankrum, YoHan Choi, Duke Becker)
Boys 11-12 200 breaststroke
2. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 2:57.96
Girls 10-under 50 butterfly
1. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 33.38
Girls 10-under 100 backstroke
3. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 1:26.33
Boys 10-under 100 backstroke
2. Ethan Ng, Kona Dolphins, 1:22.82
Girls 10-under 200 freestyle
2. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 2:33.70
Girls 15-18 400 LC Meter IM
2. Korrie Tengan, Warrior Aquatic Club, 5:12.44
Boys 10-under 50 backstroke
1 Ethan Ng, Kona Dolphins, 37.43
Boys 13-14 400 IM
2 Duke Becker, Kona Aquatics, 4:59.71
Girls 13-14 100 breaststroke
3. So Myong Jeong, Kona Aquatic, 1:19.96
Boys 13-14 100 breaststroke
1. Duke Becker, Kona Aquatics, 1:09.57
Boys 13-14 200 freestyle
2. Kai Hayashida, Hilo Aquatic Club, 2:05.25
Girls 11-12 50 breaststroke
2. Oliliu Wise, Hawaii Island Swim Club, 37.51
Boys 11-12 50 breaststroke
1. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 33.10
Boys 13-14 100 butterfly
3. Jakob Honda, Academy Swim Club, 1:04.34
Boys 15-18 100 butterfly
1. Weylin Foo, Kona Dolphins, 57.74
Boys 11-12 200 freestyle
1. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 2:18.03
Boys 11-12 400 medley relay
2. Academy Swim Club, 5:35.85 (Kaiea Hudgins, Coleson Pouoa, Hulton Chicoine, Kekai Haines)
Boys 13-14 400 medley relay
1. Kona Aquatics, 4:26.64 (YoHan Choi, Duke Becker, Nolan Morton, Aiden Ankrum)
Boys 10-under 50 backstroke
1. Ethan Ng, Kona Dolphins, 37.43
Girls 10-under 100 breaststroke
2. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 1:29.34
Girls 10-under 100 freestyle
2. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 1:09.32
Boys 11-12 400 freestyle
2. Stanley Oka, Kona Aquatics, 5:03.12
Girls 13-14 800 freestyle
3. Bella Shurley, Kona Dolphins, 10:06.30
Boys 13-14 800 freestyle
1. Kai Hayashida, Hilo Aquatic Club, 9:22.00
2. Aiden Ankrum, Kona Aquatics, 9:31.13
3. Nolan Morton, Kona Aquatics, 9:45.88
Boys 13-14 200 backstroke
2 Duke Becker, Kona Aquatic, 2:18.60
Girls 11-12 100 breaststroke
2. Oliliu Wise, Hawaii Island Swim Club, 1:23.89
Boys 11-12 100 breaststroke
1. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 1:16.01
3. Coleson Pouoa, Academy Swim Clib, 1:24.78
Boys 11-12 100 freestyle
1. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 1:01.90
3. Kekai Haines, Academy Swim Club, 1:05.45
Boys 13-14 200 IM
1. Duke Becker, Kona Aquatics, 2:20.10
Girls 15-18 200 IM
2. Korrie Tengan, Warrior Aquatic Club, 2:26.29
Boys 15-18 200 IM
1. Weylin Foo, Kona Dolphins, 2:12.29
Boys 11-12 200 medley relay
2. Academy Swim Club, 2:20.85 (Kaiea Hudgins, Coleson Pouoa, Hulton Chicoine, Kekai Haines)
Boys 11-12 200 backstroke
2. Stanley Oka, Kona Aquatics, 2:49.99
3. Archer Ankrum, Kona Aquatics, 2:51.63
Girls 10-under 200 IM
3. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 2:57.69 A
Girls 10-under 50 freestyle
1. Ana Rose, Kona Dolphins, 30.72
Boys 10-under 50 freestyle
2 Ethan Ng, Kona Dolphins, 32.98
Boys 13-14 400 freestyle
3. Kai Hayashida, Hilo Aquactic Club, 4:30.24
Boys 11-12 200 IM
2. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 2:29.60
Boys 13-14 200 butterfly
2. Kai Hayashida, Hilo Aquatic Club, 2:19.41
Boys 15-18 200 butterfly
1. Weylin Foo, Kona Dolphins, 2:08.54
Boys 11-12 50 freestyle
1. X Rose, Kona Dolphins, 27.45
2. Kekai Haines, Academy Swim Club, 29.87
Boys 13-14 100 backstroke
2. Duke Becker, Kona Aquatics, 1:04.83
3. Nolan Morton, Kona Aquatics, 1:05.48
Boys 11-12 100 butterfly
3. Stanley Oka, Kona Aquatics, 1:15.86
Girls 13-14 200 breaststroke
2. So Myong Jeong, Kona Aquatics, 2:53.66
Boys 13-14 200 breaststroke
1. Duke Becker, Kona Aquatic, 2:34.36
Girls 15-18 200 breaststroke
3. Korrie Tengan, Warrior Aquatic Club, 2:47.43
Boys 11-12 200 freestyle relay
2. Academy Swim Club, 2:07.87 (Kaiea Hudgins, Coleson Pouoa, Hulton Chicoine, Kekai Haines)
Boys 13-14 200 freestyle relay
1. Kona Aquatics, 1:49.84 (YoHan Choi, Aiden Ankrum, Nolan Morton, Duke Becker)