Swimming wasn’t the only thing on the minds of athletes during the fifth annual Puyallup School District swim meet. All donations benefited Sacks of Love, a non-profit organization that raises awareness to support testicular cancer research.
Chris Utterback and Nick Ost, both of whom graduated from Puyallup High School last year, started the organization. They were team captains for the Vikings’ swimming team during their careers.
Utterback said the idea for Sacks of Love came about during a practice last winter.
“We were talking about things we could do to change the world,” Utterback said. “We started talking about a non-profit, and we sort of thought testicular cancer was not really represented. There is a lot of representation for other ones, which is good, but we felt testicular cancer was really important and doesn’t get much recognition. We talked about it, and thought, ‘Why not?’ ”
Utterback said hosting the event at their old stomping grounds was icing on the cake.
“This is the pool where we came up with the idea,” he said. “That is why we are here.”
Rogers swimmer Christian Barrett enjoyed the atmosphere of the all-district meet that featured all three Puyallup-area high schools.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I really like just going against our rivals and having that who is the best and who can do better matchups. It is really fun to do that.”
Puyallup’s Jake Hodges turned in a workmanlike performance with meet records in the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 free.
“I swam at around 23 seconds in the 50 free and right at 51 seconds in the 100 free,” Hodges said. “I didn’t know I was that close to the meet records. I just pushed myself and went for it. It is a good feeling.
“Every year, this is our biggest competition of the regular season,” he added. “We have big meets, but this is the one where all of our pride is on the line. We get to represent for Puyallup.”
Emerald Ridge head coach Dave McMullan said his team looks forward to facing Rogers and Puyallup each year.
“Having all three schools compete at the same time is a lot of fun,” McMullan said. “We still have fewer swimmers than the other two schools, so, team-wise, we’re not racking up a lot of points, but our individual scores look good.”
McMullan said the Jaguars’ next two meets will be at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, and then they will finish against Rogers.
“Both teams will be pumped up for that match,” he said.