Savannah KillsRee could barely swim when she joined Kelso’s swim team as a freshman. Now, as a senior, she’s the team captain.

“I was scared to put my face in the water at first,” KillsRee said. “Didn’t know how to blow bubbles. Literally, my coach had to stand by me and make sure that I didn’t drown.”

She worked, maneuvering a rocky road filled with obstacles, earning her varsity letter as a sophomore, and most recently posted a 2 minute, 39.12-second mark in the 200 freestyle at Gaither Pool Saturday morning to finish 15th.

“Sometimes you do, some you don’t,” assistant coach Jessica Aldrich said regarding whether she can tell if someone is going to be a good swimmer. “Savannah I didn’t. But she worked really hard and that was it for her. She isn’t a natural but she’s worked her way there.”

One of her biggest obstacles as a swimmer is breathing, the toughest thing for KillsRee to do as a freshman. She dealt with a pinched nerve in her back right before last year’s district meet and swam the 50 butterfly, her favorite event.

KillsRee said her best event is the 500 freestyle, though, something she swam as a replacement initially her sophomore year.

“The first time I swam it I finished at 8:16, and now I’m at a 7:10,” KillsRee said. “This last week I’ve dropped four seconds.”

Balancing her work, school and swim life was a struggle for KillsRee during her junior year. A running start student, she was stressed.

“I knew at the end of the day that when it came to swim, I was relieved of it, and all I had to do was focus on swimming,” KillsRee said. “It really is a spiritual thing that you are just so much more relaxed in the water.”

Known as “Splashy” by her teammates, KillsRee has been emotional in her final season — bittersweet because of the joy she’s experienced and because it’s coming to a close.

“Jess (coach Aldrich) has stayed by my side since freshman year,” KillsRee said. “I loved my swim life, and I still do.”

Kelso Invite highlights: Mark Morris’ Alyssa Davis (2:16.11) finished fifth in the 200 freestyle and Kiara Pereault (2:26.10) placed ninth. Winter Strong of Mark Morris placed fourth (2:27.77) in the 200 IM and teammate Miranda Roseman finished 10th (2:41.81). Roseman also finished seventh in the 100 butterfly (1:15.56) and Monarchs’ sophomore Paige Curley placed eighth in the 500 freestyle (7:23.06). Mark Morris’ 200 freestyle relay team of Roseman, Pereault, Davis and Curley finished fourth (2:00.51) and Kelso’s team of Anna Waddell, Genna Aldrich, Shayla Kazensky and Emily Russell placed fifth (2:03.55).

MM’s Danessa Brickert placed seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:25.83) and Waddell placed eighth (1:26.18). Mark Morris was fourth overall with a team score of 318.5 and Kelso was sixth with a score of 182.

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Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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