Fourteen years as a successful coach will create plenty of special memories. This year’s girls swim team, a three-time City League champion, is no different for East coach Joe Hutchinson.
"It’s a special group," Hutchinson said.
A group of seniors — including state qualifiers Madelyn Ong, Kate Spitz and Andrea Livingston — were teammates of Yuna Choi, who died almost two years ago in a car accident on the Kansas Turnpike along with her mother and younger brother. Yuna’s twin sister and teammate, Hana, was seriously injured.
"They all bonded together," Hutchinson said. "It was a time when they helped each other and they helped me."
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The Blue Aces have persevered and continue to have success.
"They are self-driven," Hutchinson said.
With its new pool, East is able to split time between the 25 varsity and 15 junior varsity members this season for practice.
Spitz, Ong and sophomore Olivia Tran are three of the team’s top performers and leaders. A year ago, they were a part of the 200 medley relay that placed fifth at state and also broke the school record. Spitz and Tran also were individual medalists, and Livingston and Ong qualified in two events each.