By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Western Christian’s Raquel Druery has been swimming since she was six years ago, going on 12 years of competing in the pool. Swimming with McMinnville Swim Club and Capital Swim Team, formerly known as Mid-Valley Aquatics.
But for the past four years, the Pioneer swimmer has been a part of the Salem Academy swim team in the 4A/3A/2A/1A division of the OSAA the past three years.
It’s a good experience to be able to compete against the Sweet Home’s, Sisters, Newport’s, etc. in the 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 3 conference. But it also presents it’s challenges as well competing with people not necessarily that go to the same school as hers.
“It has honestly been a really good experience for me because I’ve been able to reach out and meet new people from other schools,” Druery said. “It’s also a way for me to still be able to swim for a high school team since my school doesn’t have a swim team! it does come with its disadvantages at some points as well. Not being able to connect with the Salem Academy team as well as the rest of them because I’m not there 100% of the time like they are, but I’ve pushed past that and have made it a really good experience.”
She’s taken advantage of the early morning practices and the meets through the years to build the relationships with her teammates through the years.
“I’ve definitely made the most out of swimming for a team that’s not at my school. Part of what helped me stay more connected with my team was hanging out with them outside of meets and practices,” said Druery. “I became really close with them over the years and would consider them to be some of my closest friends now! Another thing that helped was them being super inviting and including, as soon as I came in, I automatically became friends with everyone and the seniors really helped me stay included!”
Starting as a freshman at a new program, then-Head Coach Maria Robertson helped push the young High School swimmer who had some lofty goals entering High School. After making it to State as a freshman in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay, Druery wanted to get to State in all of her individual events by her Senior Year.
She achieved the goal by her Junior Year. Going to State for 200-Yard individual Medley and 100-yard Butterfly where she placed 12th and tenth in those events respectively as Marissa Kuch took over the program in 2019 . Achieving her goal as she did spoke to her work ethic and sacrifice to get to not just once, but all three-years in high school up to this point.
“It was definitely a lot of hard work to make it to state three years-in-a-row. I think part of what helped me was having the club swimming experience, keeping up the endurance and working hard. I have had the best coaches to be there pushing me because it’s definitely hard to have self-motivation at a meet when I’m tired and hurting,” Druery said. “Having the morning practice was pretty brutal at times but in the end, it was nice for timing, especially for being in high school.
“I loved going to state three years in a row but my favorite year was my Junior year because it was the first year that I made it in my individual events. I made it in the 200 IM and placed 12 and the 100 butterfly and placed 10th. It was so cool to see all of my hard work over the years pay off and it be for myself because the years before I had gone to state in relays.”
Druery went to State her Sophomore year, competing in the 200-yard Medley Relay (ninth-place finish), 200-yard Freestyle Relay (seventh-place finish) and on the fourth-place 400-yard freestyle relay that year.
On top of swimming, Druery is also a Volleyball player for Western Christian. Being on the Varsity roster since a freshman. The Pios went 9-17 in 2019 and 5-11 in the Tri-River Conference that saw TRC-winner Kennedy win the 2A State Title during Druery’s Junior season.
“Volleyball is definitely a way different sport then swimming in a lot of different ways when it comes to working out. mainly because it works different muscles. but volleyball helps a lot with gaining more muscles to be able to be stronger in the water,” Druery said.
Being away from both sports has been tough due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. But have dabbled in both sports during the past few months as she hopes that Volleyball and Swimming happen this Spring for her with her Western Christian and Crusader teammates.
“Not being able to swim and play volleyball has been super hard. This has been the longest break of swim I’ve had in a really long time. At the beginning of quarantine, I did swim with the Capital Swim Team for a couple months but then when school started, I decided to take a break again,” Druery said. “We practiced a lot over the summer for volleyball so I got to have that chance which was fun and our season for volleyball should be starting up in the next couple weeks.”