THE DALLES — For Pendleton Swim Association member Melinda Cramp, competing in a summer meet solo isn’t really something that she prefers to be doing. But the incoming Buckaroo sophomore seemed to enjoy herself while competing in the 68th Annual Ted Walker Invitational meet June 21-23 in The Dalles.

Cramp, 15, was one of a total of 381 athletes representing 16 teams that were swimming in the Northern Wasco County Parks & Recreation long course (50 meter) pool in a summer swim meet over the weekend. Cramp’s other Pendleton teammates were participating in a meet in Spokane at the same time, but she decided to travel to The Dalles with her mom Michelle and enter a different event.

“It’s fun swimming at this meet, because I always enjoy swimming at The Dalles, but it’s sad not being together with my team, and I kind of feel somewhat lonely here,” said Cramp, who started competing with the PSA squad at age 10.

“At the same time, I feel like I’m representing my team very well, even though they’re at another meet. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been to a meet by myself. I’ve swimmed unattached a couple of times before at other meets so I’m kind of accustomed to it. I heard that it was kind of cold in Spokane, so I’m glad I came here and I had lots of fun in The Dalles.”

Cramp entered a total of six individual events, with three each on Saturday and Sunday. It’s the third time she’s competed at The Dalles summer swim meet. The windy weather in the Columbia Gorge made it extremely difficult at times for swimmers to go their fastest. Cramp was one of five members of the PHS Buckaroo squad that qualified for the 2019 OSAA Class 5A girls swimming state championships back in February.

“At this point of the season, I’m happy with the times I had and even with the windy weather conditions, I think that I did pretty good,” said Cramp, who also is on the PHS girls tennis team. “I really enjoy swimming and it’s my favorite sport that I absolutely love. I really love doing the 100 backstroke and the 100 freestyle, but I really enjoy every event equally. I really like The Dalles pool, because whenever I swim in it, it just seems to make me feel like I can swim faster than I do at some other pools that I go to.”

With the wind, Cramp, like many of her peers, was unable to get any personal record times in her events. However, Cramp displayed her high caliber of swimming with a strong overall performance, highlighted by a third place medal winning effort on Sunday in the girls 200 meter backstroke with a solid time of 2:57.87.

Cramp also had a top-10 finish Sunday with her 10th place in the 50 freestyle at 33.00 seconds. In the 200 free, she timed in at 2:42.01 for a 12th place finish.

Cramp started the meet Saturday afternoon by swimming in her first event, the 100 backstroke, followed by the 200 breaststroke, and the 100 free. Cramp recorded top-10 finishes in all three events. She took ninth in the 200 breast, clocking in at 3:47.43. She was 10th in the 100 free with her time of 1:11.08, and took 10th in the 100 back at 1:21.42.

Cramp will join her PSA squad and coach Tony Nelson when they compete in the 53rd Annual Pendleton Open July 5-7 at the Pendleton Aquatic Center. A total of 10 teams with nearly 400 swimmers will be attending the meet, which begins at 9 a.m. July 5, followed by 8:30 a.m. on July 6 and 7. Pendleton’s summer swim squad has a total of 35 members, with athletes from elementary through high school.

“We go back and forth, alternating between these two meets every year, and since we were in The Dalles last year, we wanted to go to Spokane this year,” said Nelson, who guided a five-member squad at the meet at Witter pool in Spokane June 21-23. “The kids are swimming well and dropping times in nearly every event, so they’re all doing very well for us. We love our home meet and in my opinion, we have the best pool of any meet that we ever go to. We’re really excited about that, it’s going to be very nice and we’re expecting to have great weather too.”

Ten of the 11 PHS boys and girls swimmers who qualified for Class 5A state swimming championships in February are on the team, including 2019 Pendleton High grads Landry Huth and Ryan Barnard. The PSA squad will conclude its season at the championship meet July 26-28 in Pasco and several team members are expected to qualify for that event.

“We couldn’t use our pool for a while because it had to be painted, so that put us behind in practicing a little bit, but we’re doing OK now, and everyone is swimming strong,” said Nelson. “Melinda wanted to go to The Dalles, which is fine, because you never know what’s going to happen with the weather in Spokane.”

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