A Part Of A Special Group

By Jeremy McDonald


SILVERTON, Ore.–  The last member of a memorable Senior Group has landed at her next spot.

As the school year rev’s up across the country, Silverton-grad and incoming freshman at Whitter College Marie Tolmachoff found her next home as a Poet entering hopefully her freshman year in the pool for the squad amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic.

But for the former Aqua Fox swimmer, who holds the school record in the 200 medley (also a District record) and the 200 free relay and is tied with teammate Maddie Broyhill with nine State Medals in program history, she wanted to take her talents to Southern California with her new home on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

Whitter had fit her needs in the classroom as well as the pool.  The coaches were welcoming and the academia fit her passion of writing as she adjusts to the difference in weather in the Golden State.

“Whittier College stuck out to me because of their enticing literature program. I am a very passionate writer and Whittier College seems like the perfect fit to pursue my English career,” said the aspiring editor and English Major.  “From the swimming perspective, their team was really welcoming. The coaches were always in touch with me, wondering how things were. But what stood out the most for me is the environment of their teammates.

“I knew I had a special circumstance swimming with my best friends for eight years, so I wanted to choose a school that exemplified the power of good sportsmanship’s and treating the team like family.”

Call her and her friends the Fab Four.  The Fighting Foxes even because of their intelligence, their drive and their ambitious demeanor when they arrived at Silverton.  They knew of their potential entering the pool that fateful first year, and slowly it paid off by the time they graduated.

A group of friends: Tolmachoff, Samantha Zurcher, Maddie Broyhill and Maggie Kelley with no club experience had turned the Silverton Aqua Foxes Girls Program into a Top 3 Class 5A State Placer by the time they graduated this past year.  Finishing third as a team their Senior year following their sixth-place finish as a team the year prior.

Tolmachoff was known as the spearhead of this group said Head Coach Lucky Rogers.  But for Tolmachoff, it was a belief in their abilities as a group.

“We were all friends in and out of the pool and were smart, driven and ambitious. But what I think helped push us to the next level was that I knew the potential we had was limitless and still is to this day and I wanted to make sure my teammates knew what we could do. We are all now swimming in college with no club experience, making us that much more valuable. We were, and are continuing to be so valuable because we don’t just excel in the pool,” said Tolmachoff.

Tolmachoff points to all of their successes out of the pool.  All were National Honors Society members, Zurcher being a Valedictorian and a fierce competitor on the dance team.  Broyhill was Salutatorian and a Capitan on the Volleyball team.  Kelley’s an active member of the Red Cross Club and Band.

Tolmachoff herself was on the Foxes two-time State Champion Choir program.

“This is only a fraction of examples of how dedicated my friends and I are. But I ALWAYS knew it would be us four in the end with medals around our necks. In practice when we were all together, we felt unstoppable,” said Tolmachoff.  “At times our workouts felt impossible, like how in the world could I keep on sprinting, but we always encouraged each other with little saying like ‘we have two more of these and then only one more!’  we’d say silly things like this to keep us going. My teammates didn’t know how talented and motivating they truly were, but I always knew what was ahead for us. They were an inspiration to me every day.”

The Fab Four had looked up to the juggernaut that is Crescent Valley.  Girls like Sarah Cordier, Paula Lammanco and Lindsey Soule had motivated Tolmachoff and her crew, making it especially bittersweet when they defeated them at the District race because the four looked up to the Raiders girls and wanted to see them succeed as well.

Their sportsmanship and competitiveness had pushed them to high standards that Tolmachoff hopes that the younger swimmers can take away as it becomes their turn to carry on the new tradition of success with the program.  For Tolmachoff, it was more than their success in the pool that set the pace.

It was the just the end-result of the journey set in motion by the love for one another and motivating each other to get to that end-result that people from the outside look too.  That’s the message and standard that Tolmachoff hopes that her and the Fab Four have left behind for those coming up in the program behind them.

“I think it will inspire the younger swimmers that anything is possible with hard work dedication and surrounding yourself in a mindset with motivating and loving people,” starts Tolmachoff.  “That’s one of the reasons why our team took such a dramatic leap in our successes because we were in an environment that allowed us to dream big and work hard with support and love from our community and most of all our coaches.

“Yeah Maddie and I were the most decorated swimmers, but I think we could agree that our fab four were the luckiest and decorated in our love for each other. Personally, I know I couldn’t have gone as far as I did individually without my relay. It wasn’t just in the pool, we’d motivate each other on bus rides, by calculating the splits we’d need to get to PR, and we’d listen to pump up music with each other dancing and getting our jitters out together. I hope the girls and boys coming in next year realize you make a name for yourself by having your teammates back through all of the tough races and to surely know beyond doubt that it’s okay to make mistakes. “

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