PEKIN — The Dunn family experienced a little more "together time" than they had planned during the Christmas break.

They had to brave the winter weather and challenging driving conditions from Novi, Mich., to Pekin on Friday to make it back in time to host the annual Downstate 8 Relays swim meet on Saturday.

A drive that normally takes them six hours ended up taking 11 hours through some treacherous weather and road conditions.

The family vehicle included first-year Pekin swimming and diving coach Christine Dunn and her husband, Rusty, who handled the announcing duties and sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the meet; their son, Sam, a Pekin junior swimmer; and Anna and Kyle Holmes, their daughter and son-in-law.

"The roads were horrible, but we had no choice, obviously, with the meet happening," Rusty Dunn said. "The big reason our daughter and her husband came down was to go up with us to Michigan for an extended family reunion.

"Then two nights ago, realizing the weather was going to be bad, we decided to take off yesterday (Friday) morning. The weather was nasty. Had we not had to come back for this meet, we probably would have stayed an extra night."

Christine Dunn had worked the meet before as a volunteer, but this was the first time she was the official host, as the Dragons coach.

"Our daughter and her husband were down here from Minneapolis, so we got them to help hand out the awards," Rusty Dunn said.

Working the swim meets as a family is nothing new for the Dunns, who have been involved with swimming since all four of their children — Sam, Anna, Madison and Jack — took an interest. All four of the Dunn children swam for the Dragons.

"We're usually here for meets," Christine Dunn said. "When the girls swam, the boys would be here to keep time, and vice versa."

She took over the program in late November, but was familiar with most of the Pekin swimmers because of her work as a coach for the Pekin Park District in the summer.

"I have not coached high school before, but I coach with coach Mitch (Richards, the former Pekin swim coach) for Dragon Aquatics," Christine Dunn, a former Pekin swimmer, said. "I helped get that started, then went to Singapore for a year and coached their part time."

Rusty Dunn, who used to work at WMBD and WHOI TV stations, has handled the announcing duties at Pekin for about seven or eight years.

But he wasn't sure they would get back in time for this one.

"With the weather conditions being the way they are, and we're out of state," he said, "I did have a fleeting thought that if something happened on the way home — if we go in the ditch or get in a wreck —what's plan B if we can't make it back in time?

His wife was not worried. "We have total confidence in (assistant coaches) Jill Weckbach and Krista Carlson," she said.

Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.