PHS Swim and Dive Chips Off the Old Blocks


Amelia Wright

Reporter, Riley Rossi, captures the excitement of the swim and dive team as they use the new diving blocks.

Riley Rosi, Reporter

Peninsula High School (PHS) was built in 1947.  Over the years there has been several improvements and additions to the school, one of the most recent updates are the new starting blocks installed in the pool facility for the swim teams.  Starting blocks are the platforms that swimmers use to launch themselves into the water at the beginning of a race to help get a better start when competing.  The original starting blocks were installed in 1979, over many years of wear and tear they needed to be replaced. The coaches, swimmers, and their parents set out to do just that.

Craig Brown, a teacher at PHS, has been coaching boys and girls swim for over 36 years and has been helping raise money for this improvement for the past four years.

“This has been a dream of a lot of swimmers for a number of years, to upgrade our blocks.  These blocks are close to what we race with at the state meet in Federal Way, so we wanted a block that would be similar,” said Brown. “One of the things we always talk about is a legacy, try to leave something for future swimmers and divers.  What can we do to help make the program better? Everybody agreed that getting new starting blocks was our number one goal.”

A lot of time and effort went into raising money for the starting blocks. Because the school district doesn’t have extra funds to put into the program, swimmers and their family members contributed their own time, money and resources to help fundraise. Donna Ryan got involved with the girls swim team in 2010 when her daughter, Madison Ryan, started as a freshman on the swim team. She helped organize many different fundraisers including a Lap- A- Thon. After her daughter graduated she continued her efforts for another year because the program was so close to reaching their financial goal.

“The blocks needed to be replaced due to their age. At that point, I contacted the original manufacturer to see if we could save costs by replacing the tops of blocks. The manufacturer refused to do so, as they were a safety hazard,” said Ryan. “The old blocks were over thirty years old. After my discussion with the manufacturer and consulting with Coach Brown, we decided that would be our top priority in fundraising.”

A Lap- A- Thon is where the swimmers go out and ask their friends, family, and neighbors to sponsor them. The swimmers can be pledged a flat donation or per length they swim with a maximum of 100 laps allowed.  Coach Brown and the swimmers knew that the new blocks would cost upward of $25,000.  The girls and boys teams began their quest in raising funds for the new starting blocks.

Senior and boys team captain, Dylan Carlson, first showed interest in swimming during freshman swim class. Carlson had so much fun in swim class he decided to join the swim team his sophomore year and has been on the team for last three years.  Carlson competes in the 100 meter butterfly and 100 meter backstroke.  For Carlson it’s not just the competition that he enjoys but also the team aspect and how well all the guys get along together.

“Years of hard work have gone into raising the money for the blocks and finally being able to use them when several people have tried and tried to raise the money for the blocks weren’t able to use them, I feel honored to be able to use them,” said Carlson. “It’s always important for any program to get new equipment and new gear every so often and we’ve had the same starting blocks since 1979.  In football, they always get new uniforms, well, for swimming we get new starting blocks.”

Both the boys and girls swim teams worked equally hard in fundraising for the new starting blocks. Unfortunately, the blocks weren’t installed in time for girls swim season due to some painting problems at the manufacturer, so they won’t get use them until next year. That being said, the underclassmen on the teams are extremely excited about getting to use the new blocks throughout their high school career.

Sophomore, Brayden Hester, began swimming last year as freshmen and plans to continue swimming through his senior year.  As a sprinter, Hester competes in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle and is also a part of the 200 and 400 meter freestyle relays.  Hester’s goal is to make districts while in high school.

“I used the old blocks my freshman year, it was awesome to get the new ones, they work really well and it’s just a great bonus for the team.  The old ones didn’t look as good and were completely outdated, the new blocks are super cool looking and have blocks on the back that you can put your feet on and push off,” said Hester. “You can adjust them depending on how tall you are or how far you want to jump out in the water, so that really helps you race.”

Along with the new starting blocks there are many other potential projects in the works that will help the program grow and become better. One of the projects is a 60 inch TV that’s going to be installed so coaches can record the swimmers and divers during practice and competitions with GoPros and  iPads. This will let the swimmers and divers view themselves which helps them become better and stronger in their training.  For right now all the hard work has paid off: the swimmer’s parents and coaches finally chipped off the old blocks.

“It’s an upgrade from what we had before. The blocks we had were great but this is just a real step up,” said Brown. “It’s like flying first class instead of coach.”