The Franklin swim program closed out their season strong, by placing first at the Portland Interscholastic League district meet and placing 14th at the State meet in the men’s 200 yard freestyle relay. In addition to the hard work and commitment of individual athletes, their success can be attributed in part to the welcoming, supportive team culture of Franklin Swim. Captains Cooper Long (12) and Riley Doty (12) described how all athletes, no matter their skill level, are met with enthusiasm and acceptance. “We strive to make sure that everyone—even if [they didn’t] have a swimming background—feels accepted on the team and feels like [they] have the resources to learn and grow,” expressed Doty. Long and Doty planned many team bonding events to help foster this positive environment, despite the logistical challenges of organizing such a large team. Doty once hosted fifty people in their living room for a holiday gift exchange. Another time, the entire team descended upon an IHOP to celebrate after a meet. These events were sometimes chaotic, but nonetheless built camaraderie among athletes. “We had a pretty big team this year and everyone seemed really into showing up to practice, putting in the effort, [and] supporting [their] teammates at meets,” said Doty. “There’s always someone at the end of the lane cheering…[our team is] always cheering the loudest.”
Both captains graduate this year, so for Long it was particularly exciting to swim at state. This is the first time Franklin has made it to state since the ’80s and it’s an especially momentous achievement for the Franklin swim program. “Every other school in the district has a lot of money going into their swim teams, they have a lot of club swimmers so they dominate these competitions every year,” explained Long. Despite these differences, Franklin swept the district meet, defeating Lincoln, Ida B. Wells, and Grant; snatching first place after a long hard battle throughout the season.
Jackson Thomas (12), leg two of the men’s 200 yard freestyle relay, described Franklin’s underdog mentality going into the district meet facing teams that had consistently been favored to win.“Throughout the whole season [Lincoln was] still coming out ahead of us” said Thomas. “We had never beaten Lincoln a single time until districts, so that was a mental and physical challenge for us.” Amos Crafts was the anchor, the last leg of the relay. The last leg is arguably the most important because when it comes down to the final second—or milisecond—the result depends on the anchors’ capability to finish strong. “The race itself was super close,” said Crafts, “it was back and forth the entire time.” Lincoln started off the race in first place by a small margin. The three main contenders: Lincoln, Franklin, and Grant were all neck and neck during the first leg. By the second leg Franklin had barely taken the lead, with Lincoln and Grant hot on the chase. Lincoln passed Franklin during the third leg of the race, but Crafts held his composure on the final stretch and passed Lincoln to secure the win. Crafts described the energy of the crowd after the race: “I wish I had the recording… the entire pool exploded.”
Coach Erin Morris expressed excitement about the new coaching leadership this year. With the help of assistant coach and Franklin alum Emma Doty, Coach Morris has been able to focus more energy on the athletes and the program as a whole. “Last year there were so many pieces of [coaching and managing the whole program] that I had to learn on the fly,” explained Coach Morris. But this year the program has found its stride with the added support of Assistant Coach Doty.
Morris works to make swimming accessible to all students, even keeping pool passes on hand as an affordable way for students to gain pool access, while also supporting athletes ready to compete at the next level. She congratulated the relay team that went to state, explaining that the 200 free relay is “very very competitive” and has “no margin for error.” Morris is proud of the team for putting in the hard work that got them to where they wanted to be. She highlighted Amos Crafts’ individual qualification as well. “That’s a big deal for him to qualify for three events [at] state,” she said and is excited to see where the team will go in the upcoming years. Morris looks forward to helping more kids reach their goals, whatever they may be.
Both the athletes and Coach Morris highlighted the inclusive culture that is created on Franklin Swim, and urged people to join next year. Although sometimes it’s a challenge to fit all those swimmers into the Mt. Scott pool, every year the Franklin Swim program finds new ways to be inclusive and excel at what they do. The Franklin Swim program is riding a wave of success and will carry that momentum into the coming years.