Alaskans set relay record for Wyoming [Swim]

March 5, 2013

Some athletes get fired up by listening to music before they compete. But members of the University of Wyoming men’s swim team do the haka, a traditional Pacific Islander war dance.

Juneau’s Nick Rutecki explains.

“It originated because we have kids from New Zealand,” he told me. “It’s pretty intense. It’s a lot of fun.”

Other men’s teams, like Hawaii, also do the haka. In fact, the teams agree to have dual dances before the meet.

“We go face-to-face and do our dance in front of each other,” Rutecki said. “You have to like stare people down. It’s a real adrenaline rush.”

Wasilla’s Jeff Frey [front] and Juneau’s Nick Rutecki [right] participate in the haka dance before a recent swim meet. “It’s pretty intense,” Rutecki said.

Rutecki was one of three Wyoming swimmers from Alaska to earn second team all-conference honors in two events.

Rutecki and fellow Alaskans Jeff Frey of Wasilla and Ryan O’Leary of Seward helped Wyoming take second at the conference championships in Los Angles.

UNLV won the title in the final event.

Just last month the three Alaskans and an Aussie swam the 200 freestyle relay in a school-record time of 1:20.09. Frey was second, Rutecki third and O’Leary the anchor.

“Being from people with Alaska makes it so much more fun when we do well together,” Rutecki said. “It’s so fun sharing experiences with them because they are a lot more like me than I feel like a lot of the other kids around here are.

“They are always the people I like hanging around.”

Rutecki and Frey were also on the all-conference 200 medley relay team. Frey earned all-conference in the 50 free and O’Leary was a member of the all-conference 800 free relay team.