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LAHS swimmers break long-held school records

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By Phil Scherer

In swimming, progress is often seen in milliseconds, impossible for the human eye to see. That’s why, when something as impressive as breaking an existing school record happens, it is important for coaches and teammates to recognize the accomplishment. That was the case at this year’s state championship meet for two local swimmers, Orion Henderson and Ian Jaegers. 

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Henderson broke Matt Walters’ school record in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:56.32. The previous record stood since 1988. 

Jaegers broke Will Clay’s school record in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 53.62. The previous record stood since 2001. 

Los Alamos High School swimming coach Stu Corliss said he was proud of the accomplishments, and acknowledged how rare something like that is. 

“Once every 10 or 20 years, you get lucky to have some really outstanding swimmers,” Corliss said. “It’s not like we have some pipeline that constantly brings new people into our program.”

He said these record-breaking performances can be a motivating force, not only for them, but also for their teammates. 

“Every time they walk into Walkup (Aquatic Center), they can see their name on the wall, and everyone else can see it there as well,” Corliss said.

Jaegers said that was the most surreal thing for him. He has been walking past the wall of records at the Walkup Aquatic Center for years, and is beyond excited that his name will now be there. 

“It’s an amazing feeling, and it makes me want to push myself even harder,” Jaegers said. 

Corliss also said it shows how impressive the existing records were, especially Walters’ record, which stood for more than 30 years. 

Henderson said he has been working hard for a long time, and to be able to accomplish such a great feat was amazing. 

“It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” Henderson said. “It gives me even more motivation moving forward.”

He was also quick to credit his teammates and coaches for helping him break the record. 

“All of my teammates and coaches push me to get better every day, and I would not have been able to do this without them,” Henderson said.

He also said he was proud of his team’s second-place finish at the state championships, and that he and his teammates are already looking forward to what comes next. 

Jaegers agreed that the team is excited to keep working. For most of the Hilltopper swimmers, there is almost no offseason. Immediately after the state championships for the high school season, everyone began practicing for the club season, which runs through the summer.  

“We know we can be even better next year, and we plan on battling for first place,” Jaegers said. “So many of our young guys are already so good, and they will keep getting better.”

Beyond his own personal accomplishments, Jaegers also hopes his accomplishments can motivate his teammates moving forward. Heading into next year as a senior, Jaegers will be relied on to be one of the team leaders. 

“I think I have earned even more credibility with my teammates, and I hope it makes everyone trust what I have to say,” Jaegers said. 

Many of the swimmers at LAHS have known each other for years, competing together at the club level since they were old enough to get in the pool. 

Jaegers believes that is one of the keys to the recent Hilltopper success, and thinks it gives them an edge moving forward over other top swimming programs such as Albuquerque Academy and La Cueva.

“All of us are really good friends, and we really want each other to succeed,” Jaegers said. 

Henderson also believes the team can compete for the state championship, and is excited to keep working.

 “We are going to continue to work hard during the club season and into next high school season,” Henderson said. “We all know we can accomplish great things.”