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March 2, 2024

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Spain’s Paula Galvez gives Skyview swimming a boost

Exchange student qualifies for state in two individual events

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
Skyview's Paula Galvez swims the 100-yard freestyle at the 4A district meet on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at Gaither Pool in Kelso.
Skyview's Paula Galvez swims the 100-yard freestyle at the 4A district meet on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at Gaither Pool in Kelso. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

KELSO — A boost of energy and excitement came to the Skyview swimming team this fall in the form of Paula Galvez.

Galvez, an exchange student from Valencia, Spain, joined the Storm program at the start of the year with over 10 years of competitive swim experience, but had never been part of a school team.

“It’s so exciting,” Galvez said. “My teammates are always supporting me. It’s like a real American experience and I’m so happy to be here.”

While Galvez’s teammates welcomed her with open arms, she’s provided a source of motivation for the rest of the team to follow.

“She’s so friendly and works really hard with everyone,” Skyview coach Alyssa Bissell said. “(She’s) kind of motivating people to push to keep up with her (and) really positive at practice. It was really easy having her join in with the team.”

On Saturday, which also happened to be her two-month anniversary of arriving in Vancouver, Galvez posted second-place finishes in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle at the Class 4A district meet Saturday to qualify for the 4A state championships on Nov. 10-12 at King County Aquatic Center.

The Storm’s 400 free relay team, which Galvez is also part of, has a chance to qualify for state as a wild card after finishing third behind Camas and Richland. The Papermakers won districts with 286 points ahead of second-place Union (253). Skyview placed fifth.

“We have three other girls that are experienced as well, and they were just so excited to have that fourth person, because you always have a few,” Bissell said. “But to have that fourth person, a team of four that has been in competitive swimming that long, is just really exciting.”

Their combined experience gave Skyview loftier goals to aim for this year, including taking down a few school records.

Bailey Trahan broke a record in the 200 free earlier this season. Skyview twice improved its school record in the 400 free relay. And, Galvez broke a 19-year-old record in the 100 free earlier this season at the Kelso Invitational.

“I’ve been swimming for more than 10 years, and it feels so good to break a record,” Galvez said.

In Spain, competitive swimming requires joining a club team rather than a high school team, and typically training is year round.

“It’s different, but it’s pretty similar to here,” Galvez said. “We have a few races (that are) different and a few more races, but it’s similar and it’s amazing.”

Galvez came to Skyview one year after her sister was also an exchange student at the school, and even decided to stay with the same family, Peter and Kate Van Nortwick, via direct placement. She also heard about the Skyview swim team, and knew she wanted to join.

“My sister was here last year,” Galvez said, and she was always telling me, ‘Skyview is awesome. You’re going to have a great time. You have to join the swimming team. …’ That’s what I did and I’m so glad.”

Camas wins districts led by Deringer’s record day

When Campbell Deringer looked up to glance at the results board after winning the 100 breaststroke, her jaw dropped.

Deringer’s time of 1 minute, 3.91 seconds set both a pool and district meet record. That was remarkable in its own right, but the timing of the result had her even more stunned.

“You have to be rested a lot to go get times. I wasn’t really rested, and that was a really good time for me,” Deringer said. “I usually don’t drop very much time at districts. A huge drop like that was just unheard of for me.”

Deringer, a senior, also set a district record in the 200 individual medley (2:11.68) and helped the Papermakers close the meet with a win in the 400 relay, along with Lila McGeachy, Jennifer Gonzales Corona and Sophia Wade.

“It’s my last districts, and I feel like, not even my own personal successes, but seeing my team succeed and seeing my coaches excited, the energy is insane,” Deringer said.

Those first-place finishes, along with McGeachy finishing atop the podium in the 200 and 500 free, were enough for Camas to win districts one year after Union won to snap a 10-year streak of Camas district titles.

“Our team feels confident going into state,” Deringer said. “All the swimmers that are going have been there before. … Everything feels like it’s coming together, whereas last year it was a little different.”

Union started off the day by placing first in the 200 medley relay. The team of Alexia Bravo, Jean Lin, Joli Fong and Nicole Adams finished in 1:56.16 to edge Camas (1:56.73).

Fong also won the 100 butterfly and Lin took second in the 200 IM to qualify for state.

Battle Ground’s Uchtmann finished first in the 100 backstroke (1:03.23) and will also compete at state in the 100 fly after placing second (1:03.85).

Skyview’s Trahan took second in both the 200 free (2:03.50) and 100 back (1:03.45) to join Galvez, her teammate, at state.

In the 3A meet, Aubrey Horner won two events, helping Mountain View finish second in the team standings.

Horner won the 200 individual medley in 2:15.99. Haley Gunderson of Heritage also clinched a state berth by finishing second. Horner also won the 100 breaststroke (1:09.10). She was the lone local individual champion in a meet that included schools from eastern Washington.

Horner also swam on Mountain View’s winning 200 medley relay team with Lorena McCarty, Madison Wick and Audrey Pentz.

Other local state qualifiers were Prairie’s Kenzy Ward (100 butterfly), Wick (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) and Gunderson (100 backstroke).