swimming

Derek Clarkston/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s Marina Cummiskey, left, and Talon Lindquist combined for five titles at the state swimming and diving championships in November in Anchorage.  

Marina Cummiskey and Talon Lindquist have been photographed together for their entire lives. 

Long before they ascended to swimming stars, the two Kodiak High School seniors shared an infant photo shoot.

“Our families have known each other forever,” Cummiskey said. “We have little baby pictures together.” 

So, it is only fitting that the two will end their prolific prep careers together at this weekend’s state championship meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Kodiak has had male and female standout swimmers at the same time, but Cummiskey and Lindquist might be the first that share the same grade level.

They have combined for seven Region III swimmer of the year awards and eight state individual titles — that number most certainly will increase on Saturday. 

“It is really cool to see how they achieved success the way they have,” said Kodiak coach John Lindquist, Talon’s father. 

John is impressed with how humble the two are. Talon displayed that when asked how amazed he is of his accomplishments. It took him a few moments to come up with an answer, and even then he didn’t know quite how to respond.

“There is always people out there that are going to be faster, so that is why I keep going,” he said. “You can’t celebrate too much when you break a record, you are always looking forward to when I can go faster.”

Talon, verbally committed to swim for the University of Hawaii next fall, will graduate as Alaska’s version of Michael Phelps. He owns the state’s all-time best marks in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 39.78 seconds), 200 individual medley (1:51.33) and 100 backstroke (49.50), and is second in the 500 freestyle (4:36.80). 

There has been nobody as versatile as Talon — a nationally ranked swimmer at an early age — in the pool in the history of the state. He is a one-of-a-kind gem that has six state individual titles and possess every swimming record at KHS.  

“Across the board, event-by-event he is the best swimmer that has ever been in high school swimming,” John said.

Talon is not Kodiak’s first national-level athlete. Trevor Dunbar and Levi Thomet reached that status for the Bears’ cross country and track teams. Dunbar is now a professional runner, while Thomet is a sophomore at the University of Oregon. 

“The only thing that is different between me and Levi is that Alaska swimming isn’t as big as running, so there haven’t been as many people go through it,” Talon said. “Hopefully, it gives people inspiration to outreach my records.”

Cummiskey has watched Talon do his thing in the water for years. She is the only girl who swims in the same lane as Talon in practice. She puts up with his high jinks while attempting to keep pace with him.  

“It is crazy to see him break every single (school) record that is up there, and his own records again,” she said. “His swimming itself is amazing, but it is really fun to train with him, too.”

Cummiskey — a two-time state champion in the 200 freestyle — had a chance to graduate after her junior year, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it.

“I wouldn’t want to give up this last couple of months with coach and with the team. It is such a perfect year to end my high-school career on,” said Cummiskey, who plans to swim in college next fall. 

When Cummiskey entered high school, she joined a girls team that had seniors Tahna Lindquist — Talon’s sister — and Ila Hughes on it. She absorbed everything she could from the two swimmers that never lost a race at the state meet and went off to compete at the NCAA Division I level.  

“She wasn’t always the fastest. She had to work really hard to get to where she is at,” Talon said. “She really stepped up after Tahna and Ila left ... she deserves where she is at.” 

Cummiskey and Talon are where they are at because of coach John, who is retiring on Saturday after 17 years of coaching the Bears. The two had nothing but good things to say about the veteran coach.  

“I’m so glad and honored to have been coached by coach all of my years of swimming,” Cummiskey said. “I don’t know what swimming is going to be like next year for everybody else, and for us that have swam with him for our entire lives, I feel really privileged to end my senior year with his senior year as well.”

Talon echoed the same sentiments. 

“It’s been awesome to have my dad as a coach — a great experience that is one-of-a-kind,” he said. “What makes me feel great is that there are going to be two great coaches (Nathan Rose and Maggie Rocheleau) coming up.”

The odds are good that Talon and Cummiskey will share one more photo together before they exit the Bartlett pool for the final time.   

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