The R. A. Long High School swim program was no stranger to success heading into the 1956-57 season. The Jacks, under the tutelage of Coach Bob Clayton, ranked sixth in the state during the 1955-56 campaign.
Coach Clayton saw no reason for that trajectory to change. "We have no real outstanding individuals - we're just strong all the way through," Clayton told the Lumberjack Log in December of 1956. Clayton saw no reason the Jacks couldn't finish as high as No. 2 in the state, "if they tried hard enough." And while second in state eluded them by eight points to runner-up Everett (35-27), third place looked pretty good in the final analysis.
Clayton, who was a record-breaking swimmer for R. A. Long during the mid- to late-40s, welcomed 11 returning letter winners headlined by Bob Almos, Jerry Ogburn, Nick Morris, Jack Davies, Dave Reinholdt, and Herb Smith.
So many students turned out for the swim team that the Jacks had to establish a junior varsity squad. The Jacks opened the season with a practice meet vs. defending state champion Olympia. The Bears prevailed 44-33. RAL then ran off three straight wins over Fort Vancouver (59-45), Hudson's Bay (59-29) and North Thurston (50-27).
Clayton's crew dropped its next three meets: Olympia 54-23, Aberdeen 43-34 and Olympia again, 49-28. The Jacks beat Fort Vancouver (48-29) and Hudson's Bay (54-23) before bowing to Aberdeen (41-36). RAL closed the regular season with a win over the Fairchild Air Force squad (38-35) and a loss to the University of Washington freshmen (41-36).
Despite its up-and-down season, the Jacks weren't shy when they got to state in Seattle. RAL set a state record in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Don Hecker, John Kleger, Jerry Ogburn and Bob Almos stroked their way to first place in the record time of 1:43.2. The quartet broke the previous record in the prelims and then again in winning the finals. This was the first Longview team to win a state relay event since 1950 and the first to set a state record since 1940.
Nine aquamen scored points for Longview at state. Herb Smith placed third in diving, turning in his best performance at 216 points (46 points better than his previous best!). Larry Gorans was ninth in diving. Bob Almos was third in the 50-yard free in a school-record clocking of 25.0, a time that would have won state the year before. The medley relay team of Ray Corwin, Dave Reinholdt, Nick Morris and Bill Mosby set a school record in placing fifth. Dan Hecker was sixth in the 100-yard free.
Coach: Bob Clayton
Team Members: Don Aasen, Bob Almos, Wayne Anderson, Bob Bartell, Doug Berglund, Rod Bryson, Ray Corwin, Rand Crandall, Don Fitzpatrick, Larry Gorans, Dan Hecker, John Kleger, Jerry Lloyd, Doug Mackey, Pat Martin, Larry May, Nick Morris, Jerry Ogburn, Dave Reinholdt, Herbert Smith