Canby Gator Swimmers Qualify for Western Championships in Idaho

Two young swimmers from the Canby Gators club team are hoping to make a splash on one of their sport’s biggest stages this week after qualifying for the prestigious 2023 Western Age Group Zone Championships.

Quincy Taliaferro, 14, along with her longtime friend Sam Goktas, 13, will be representing the Oregon Western Zone Team against the best swimmers from 12 other states across four grueling days of competition.

Quincy made the cut with her blistering time in the 800-meter freestyle, which won her first place at the 2023 Oregon Swimming Inc. Long Course Championships in July. Her time of 9:52.66 was more than 10 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

She also nabbed fourth in the 200-meter individual medley and fifth in the 100-meter butterfly.

Sam earned a second place in the 400-meter freestyle with his time of 4:37.90, behind Corvallis’ Ty Guenther (4:32.74). He also placed third in the 100-meter backstroke, third in the 200-meter freestyle, third in the 200-meter backstroke and fifth in the 400-meter individual medley.

Quincy Taliaferro, left, and Sam Gotkas. Photo courtesy Lisa Taliaferro.

“Quincy and Sam are very excited,” said Lisa Taliaferro, Quincy’s mom and board secretary for the Gators. “They have been swimming together since they were 6 and 7 years old and are truly the best of friends.”

The two will be among the fewer than 60 Oregon swimmers between the ages of 11 and 14 who qualified for the Western Zones Meet. Their achievement is believed to be the first in at least a decade for the swim club.

“This is a huge accomplishment being picked to represent the state of Oregon and being a part of the all-star team,” Taliaferro said. “It’s a big feat to make the qualifying times, because they are very fast. They’re two steps up from the state qualifying requirements, so they’re the equivalent of AAA times.”

The pair of waterbugs will be among the first to compete in the sparkling new Greater Aquatic Swim Center in Boise, Idaho, when the championships kick off Wednesday, August 2.

And that’s not the only success local swimmers have achieved this summer.

Quincy and Sam, with Kai Laitinen. Photo courtesy Lisa Taliaferro.

Four older standouts, Kai Laitinen, Kali Mull and Allison and Amanda Yancey, showed out in the 2023 Long Course Senior Zone Championships in Clovis, California, competing in numerous events and finishing 55th out of 78 teams — an impressive showing for a squad with only four swimmers.

The four were also part of the Gators’ state team, along with Quincy and Sam, and Riley Lawler, Holden Coleman, Mac Hala, Maizy Sauvainn, Caleb Snodderly, Finn Hala and Juliana Frick. Avery Keinonen qualified but was unable to compete due to injury.

Taliaferro credited the swimmers’ hard work and the Gators longtime head coach, Nathan Templeman, who was honored with a statewide award several years ago for his decades of coaching excellence in 2020, for the team’s success.

“He’s an amazing coach,” she said. “He really has the swimmers’ best interests at heart, and he’s goes the extra mile for these kids.”

Quincy with Coach Nathan Templeman. Photo courtesy Lisa Taliaferro.

The Gators swim club formed in the 1970s and is a parent-run nonprofit organization. The team is based at the Canby Swim Center and practices and competes pretty much year-round, including throughout the summer.

“It’s a huge commitment, but it’s a lot of fun,” Taliaferro said. “It’s local, it’s great exercise, and every kid who shows up and puts in the work gets to compete. We’re always looking for new swimmers, especially kindergarten through sixth grade.”

For more information about the Canby Gators, visit their website.

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