High school swimming: Columbia River team captain learns from a past miscue

Daniel Ishchuk’s tough 2019 state meet just made him, and the Chieftains, stronger for the future

VANCOUVER — At first, there was confusion.

Then he saw an open lane.

A sinking feeling came over Daniel Ishchuk. He knew that he was supposed to be in that open lane. He knew this was going to be an ordeal.

From left to right, Liam Noftsker, Daniel Ishchuk, Simon Parish, and Reagan Karcher have high hopes for Columbia River’s relay teams this week at the state meet. Ishchuk also has an interesting backstory to the state meet after some confusion last year. Photo by Alyssa Bissel.
From left to right, Liam Noftsker, Daniel Ishchuk, Simon Parish, and Reagan Karcher have high hopes for Columbia River’s relay teams this week at the state meet. Ishchuk also has an interesting backstory to the state meet after some confusion last year. Photo by Alyssa Bissel.

A year ago at the WIAA Class 2A state swimming and diving championships, Daniel Ishchuk of Columbia River was getting ready to compete in the preliminaries of the 200 individual medley. From where he was, he could not see the scoreboard, so he asked a race official where the meet was, in terms of scheduling. Ishchuk was told it was the first heat.

No problem. He was in the third heat. He still had a few minutes.

It turned out, it was the end of the second heat. 

Ishchuk did not make it to the start of his race.

That’s a disqualification.

“Oh man. It was very disappointing,” Ishchuk said.

And in most cases, that’s a disqualification from the entire meet. He was going to be DQ’d from his other event, and he would not have been able to compete with Columbia River’s relay teams. 

He took responsibility for his own actions, discussed the situation with meet directors, and apologized for his mistake. 

He was allowed to continue to compete in his other races.

“I was really worried about relays. I didn’t really want to let my team down,” Ishchuk said. “It all turned out fine in the end, for the most part.”

He could have become angry. He could have pointed a finger at the person who gave him the incorrect information. 

Instead, Ishchuk owned up to the fact that he is supposed to be responsible for knowing the meet schedule, for being on time for the start of a race. 

Perhaps that maturity is why Ishchuk is one of the team’s captains this year.

“Last year, it was tough. For a lot of the season I was sick, and I wasn’t really doing well,” Ishchuk said. 

Not paying attention and missing that race at state pretty much summed up his season, he said.

Now, as a junior, he is focused.

“This year, I really turned it around. I’m really active in meets. Coach must have seen something in me when she made me a captain.”

Technically, his teammates voted him as captain, but his coach certainly approved. Clearly, Ishchuk has learned from last year’s miscue.

“He has been really good at communication and being positive,” Alyssa Bissel said. “He’s not stressed out at swim meets.”

He emphasizes to his teammates the importance of being on time. No, not just at meets, but at practice. The Columbia River team practices at 5:30 in the morning. There is not always a lot of pool time so a swimmer has to get the most out of it, which means, be on time.

“Swimming is something I’ve known my entire life. It’s an example of will power, the ability to do your best in practice, every single day to improve,” Ishchuk said. “When somebody shows improvement, it shows a lot about character because it shows how hard they have worked.”

Ishchuk is faster and stronger this year, as well.

So are many of his teammates. Columbia River is seeded in the top five in all three relays as the state’s best high school swimmers prepare for the state meet Friday and Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

The 400 freestyle relay is likely the team’s best shot at victory. Ishchuk, Simon Parish, Liam Noftsker, and Reagan Karcher make up that foursome. 

Remember last year, when Ishchuk was almost disqualified for the entire meet? He said he was more concerned about letting down his relay teammates than missing out on his own individual meets.

“The friends I’ve made from swimming are really going to last me my entire life,” he said.

The bond is what drives the Chieftains to excel. A year ago, the team finished ninth in state. With a number of swimmers back, the Chieftains could make a jump in the standings. That is not their concern right now. 

If they perform, the team points will work themselves out.

“I haven’t considered actual team placement yet, but I would say the relays … I’m excited about the relays,” Parish said. 

“Have fun,” Noftsker said of the goal at state. “Cheer on our teammates a lot more. Supporting teammates is what I want us to focus on at state.”

That is what high school swimming is about for this team. 

“I’m home-schooled so this is where I get a lot of my social activities,” Parish said. “A great group of guys. It’s super competitive and fun.”

Even at 5:30 in the morning?

That’s not tough for the Chieftains. That’s part of the joy.

“It’s more of a reward to see all of these people,” Noftsker said.

The Chieftains hope to see a lot of each other on the podium this weekend in Federal Way. 

Six have qualified for individual events, and the Chieftains have entries in all three relays. 

They are ready, and they are sure to be exactly where they need to be when it is time to race.

A list of all Clark County swimmers who have qualified for state, in the various classifications, plus notes on any seeded in the top eight.

Class 4A


Luke Bales 50 freestyle

Emanuel Crisan-Duma 100 butterfly

Jack Harris 200 freestyle; 100 freestyle (No. 8 seed)

Jaden Kim 100 butterfly (No. 2 seed)

Nathan Kim 200 IM; 100 backstroke

David Peddie 200 freestyle; 500 freestyle

Ben Taylor 50 freestyle; 100 freestyle

Relays: 200 IM (No. 5 seed); 200 freestyle (No. 7 seed); 400 freestyle


Khai Tran 100 breaststroke


Jack Gallo 100 butterfly; 500 freestyle

Stewart Johnson 50 freestyle; 100 freestyle

Tony Kajino 200 IM; 100 backstroke (No. 3 seed)

Val Tikhomirov 50 freestyle; 100 breaststroke

Alexander Wahlman 200 IM; 100 breaststroke

Nicholas Wahlman 100 butterfly; 100 breaststroke

Relays: 200 medley; 200 freestyle;

Class 3A


Ilia Zablotovskii 50 freestyle (No. 3 seed); 100 freestyle (No. 2 seed)

Mountain View:

Fred Grimshaw 50 freestyle; 100 freestyle

Timothy Huang 100 butterfly; 100 backstroke

Christian Madden 200 freestyle (No. 8 seed); 500 freestyle (No. 7 seed)

Justin Xue 50 freestyle; 100 breaststroke (No. 8 seed)

Relays: 200 IM (No. 8 seed); 200 freestyle


Jonah Colagross 200 freestyle; 

Jack Houlahan 200 IM; 500 freestyle

Kairos Phed 100 butterfly

Colton Sadler 100 breaststroke

Relays: 200 IM; 200 freestyle; 400 freestyle

Class 2A/1A

Columbia River:

Derrick Holen 200 freestyle

Daniel Ishchuk 200 IM (No. 6 seed); 100 backstroke (No. 6 seed)

Reagan Karcher 50 freestyle; 100 butterfly

Liam Noftsker 100 freestyle (No. 4 seed); 100 backstroke (No. 2 seed)

Simon Parish 200 IM (No. 4 seed); 100 butterfly

Owen Yamashita 200 freestyle

Relays: 200 medley (No. 5 seed); 200 freestyle (No. 5 seed); 400 freestyle (No. 4 seed)


Parker Dangleis 500 freestyle

Liam Dunn 100 freestyle

Alex Wendler 200 IM; 100 breaststroke

Relays: 200 medley; 200 freestyle; 400 freestyle