The Kodiak High School swimming program started in 1976. Still, it wasn’t until three decades later that a state championship banner was hung from the rafters inside the Kodiak Community Swimming Pool.
After finishing runner-up in 2009 and 2010, the Kodiak girls, behind two freshmen sensations, finally broke through in 2011. And the Bears did it in a dominating way, as their 118 points were 37 ahead of runner-up Ketchikan.
“There is a certain satisfaction that you know you have been working very hard at it and know what it takes to win,” Kodiak coach John Lindquist told the Daily Mirror in 2011. “And to finally do it in the fashion that we did today, it makes it really special.”
Kodiak was anchored by four future NCAA Division I swimmers — Celeste Beck-Goodell (University of Vermont), Jori Lindquist (Northern Arizona University), Tahna Lindquist (University of Hawaii) and Ila Hughes (Northern Arizona University). At the 2011 state meet, the fearsome foursome accounted for five wins and four runner-up finishes.
Hughes and Tahna Lindquist alone combined for four individual state titles and 54 of Kodiak’s 118 points. Hughes won the 50-yard freestyle (23.88) and the 100 free (51.67), while Tahna Lindquist took the 200 individual medley (2:10.30) and the 500 free (5:10.40). The two freshmen teamed with Beck-Goodell and Jori Lindquist — Tahna’s older sister — to win the 400 freestyle relay (3:33.88)
At the time, coach John Lindquist considered the 2011 team as one of the best in state history. He was probably not wrong in stating that opinion.
“It would be a good match with a lot of teams who have won state championships because of the quality that we have throughout every event,” he said. “It is a quality team, and we have some girls now sprinkled throughout the top 12 of Alaska history — that is significant.”
Hughes and Tahna Lindquist continued to get faster each year and, despite graduating in 2015, still hold the state’s all-time best marks in four events — Hughes in the 50 free (23.30, 2014) and 100 free (50.51, 2014), and Tahna Lindquist in the 200 IM (2:03.61, 2014) and 500 free (4:53.50, 2014).
In 2011, Hughes was glad to help Kodiak’s swimming program make history. In 2010, the Bears were runner-up to Dimond by one point. Four members of the 2010 team returned for the 2011 campaign.
“They really wanted this and worked for it,” Hughes said. “A lot of them were crying, which is good because it means they really cared. I’m glad that we got to be a part of it.”
Beck-Goodell was second in the 200 IM (2:12.24) and in the 500 free (5:11.12), while Jori Lindquist — Tahna’s older sister — was second in the 200 free (1:56.21). Junior Sophie Hogen was second in 1-meter diving, missing a state title by 11.3 points.
In all, Kodiak recorded 12 top-eight finishes, while six girls scored at least one point. Sammye Jones, Megan Jester, Ila Macinko, Shelby Dresdow, Jessa Fortaliza and Andie Wall also celebrated the championship.
“We have reached the pinnacle of what you can reach in Alaska swimming as a team,” John Lindquist said. “Hopefully, that will just keep building the success of the program.”
The coach was right as the 2012 team was even more dominating en route to repeating as state champions. The Bears won seven events — five individual and two relay — in posting a 21-point victory over Ketchikan.
“It was impressive,” John Lindquist told the Daily Mirror in 2012. “A lot of coaches came up and said they hadn’t seen something so impressive in a long time of coaching. I would have to agree with them. It was amazing.”
Tahna Lindquist and Hughes defended their state titles from 2011, while Jori Lindquist won the 200 freestyle. The Lindquist girls, Hughes and Jones won the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.