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Tran hopes to help East maintain its City League swimming success

Published April 2 at 5:55 p.m. | Last updated April 3 at 7:16 a.m.

East swimmer Olivia Tran had a hand in 49 of the Blue Aces’ 95 points in the Class 6A meet a year ago.

So, it might seem odd that Tran – very active around the water as a toddler – had to overcome a fear of it until starting to swim at age 8.

In the 10 years that have followed, she has refined her work to the point that she one of the key reasons East is favored to capture its sixth consecutive City League title.

“Around (age) 2 or 3, my mom would take me and I used to go freely and jump into the pool,” she said. “But as I got older, I became scared. It was going to my brother’s high school swim meets (at Southeast) that helped, and I probably overcame it at 9.”

Tran said that at this point in her life, swimming has become fun – no matter whether if it’s practices or a competition.

“Swimming is something you have to have fun with,” she said. “You can’t take it too seriously.”

East coach Joe Hutchinson, entering his 16th season, season, said Tran has an outlook that is really contagious and blends well.

“She really draws people and really looks forward to practice,” Hutchinson said. “She likes to have fun at practice and has a great attitude about work.”

Tran – who plans to attend Kansas in the fall – and her East teammates got an early start in the quest for another City League title.

“In November, we started swimming club and got conditioning in,” she said. “That was preparing us really well, and the rest we leave up to (Hutchinson) and let him coach us through it.”

In addition to Tran, the Blue Aces also return juniors Samantha King, Caitlyn Goodman and Mae Lavacek (all state finalists) as well as senior Toni Anderson (state qualifier). Hutchinson said he is also pleased by the group of newcomers he has coming on board.

“Our depth might not be what it has been in the past,” Hutchinson said, “but we actually have more raw talent (this season).”

It comes down to putting the swimmers in the right events and seeing whether that will yield more scoring, Hutchinson said. As always, the expectations are high.

“We hope to continue the run in City League, but a couple of schools are very fast,” he said. “It will be a challenge to maintain where we are. We’d like to be in the top five at the state level. We have the talent; we just need to be peaking at the right time.”

Tran said last year’s seniors, including Dina Vu and Natalie White, provided good examples of leadership.

“They’ve always had such positive attitudes and were enthusiastic,” Tran said. “They were so supportive of each other. They would be in (teammates’) lanes cheering for them.

“That definitely gives swimmers more confidence.”

Winning City League titles also carries another benefit – getting Hutchinson and Principal Ken Thiessen into the water fully clothed.

“Getting (them) into the water is one of my favorite traditions,” Tran said. “We get down to business when it counts.”