Magali Gray spent a little time in the Ella Redkey Municipal Pool swimming Saturday at the Great Basin Invitational.
She spent a lot more time working with young Klamath Basin Aquatics swimmers in her first summer home since having spent a year as a Colombian exchange student this past year.
“I’ve changed a lot,” the 17-year-old who will be a Klamath Union senior this next year, said during a break between her own first competitive races in a year and working with the young swimmers in the breaststroke, her favorite.
“That was the first time away from my family for more than a week-and-a-half, but now I have three more families and a thousand more friends,” she said.
Gray made her first splash in the pool as the second swimmer on a 200-yard freestyle team, and followed Kari Woodward, a KU grad, who also made her first appearance in a competitive race in more than a year.
They were joined by Andrew Edwards and Macy Hullman in the mixed (coed) event, and the quartet finished back in the past of 20 teams in the race.
Younger brothers Theron Gray and Josh Woodward, along with Luke Homfeldt and Wyatt Ritter, was second in the race.
The elder Gray, two minutes older than her twin brother, “for twins that’s important,” Magali Gray said, learned several things she can pass on to swimmers under her tutelage.
“Go for it,” she said. “If you think it might help, try it once. I kind of like things in the abstract. Everything’s temporary. What I learned is knowing that I did more things, and I came back more comfortable doing things now that might embarrass me. There is a freedom to make decisions.”
Like eating guinea pig.
Or acting goofy at Carnival, which she did in Pasto, Colombia, where she helped youngsters with their costumes and performances during the parade.
She also discovered a potential life skill — foreign relations.
“That is something I got into with my exchange trip (through Rotary International),” she said.
“I met a lot of others and there were about 80 of us in Colombia. We would meet up for a week at a time, about four times during the year. We talked about the stereotypes, and the differences and thoughts about other countries.”
Gray had to explain the state of Oregon, which she called half-hippie and half-redneck.
She was able to swim in the 200-yard breaststroke, an event she called her favorite.
While back in the standings for the event, Gray did score points to help host Klamath Basin Aquatics take the team lead in the girls competition. The host team also will take the boys lead into the final round of competition at 9 a.m. today at the Ella Redkey Municipal Pool.
“I like the rhythm of it,” she said of the 200 breaststroke. “It’s kind of a source of pride. I struggled with it when I was younger, and now I coach it. Unfortunately, in high school, they only have the 100 (breaststroke).”
n This year’s meet, with almost 250 swimmers, is the biggest in Great Basin Invitational history, as is the list of nine teams.
n Brenna Morgan opened the meet Friday playing the national anthem on a violin.
n Because of the large number of entries this year, eight lanes were used for the competition, rather than the usual six.
n Among the swimmers Saturday was 37-year-old Jacob Swinn, a nationally ranked Masters swimmer who once taught at Henley High School. He finished the 100-yard butterfly in 59.35 seconds, and was second behind Levi Buker of Superior Stingrays Swimming of Medford.
n When the final day of competition begins this morning, Klamath Basin Aquatics will take a 700-440.5-point lead over Superior Stingrays into the boys competition, and 523.5-435 edge over the Prineville Swim Team.