After a spectacular showing in the Sea-King District 2 Girls Swimming and Dive Championships, Bainbridge Island will take its biggest team in memory to the state championships this week.
Seventeen Spartans — Mikelle Ackerley, Natalie Ackerley, Shayla Archer, Mckenzie Bell, Amanda Comeau, Kittie Cooper, Ani Duni, Shannon Engelbrecht, Julia Griffiths, Sarah Grundman, Geneva Levy, Allison Murphy, Anna Peirano, Candice Rosen, Amanda Sellman, Kay Sterner and Erin Williams — will compete for individual titles and a 3A trophy as well.
“It’s very exciting,” said Sterner, who will be heading to state for the fourth time for Bainbridge.
“It’s fun to have been here all three years and have gone through a progression and be a little bit more settled this time around,” she added.
Sterner will compete in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle for Bainbridge.
This year will be a bit different, however. The past two years, Sterner has battled back problems that have left her unable to fully train in the lead-up to state.
“This is definitely going to be my best year, hopefully, so it’s exciting to know that I’m going to be swimming at my full potential this year and see what I can do,” she said.
Also heading back to state is Grundman, the reigning state champ in the 500-yard freestyle. Last year, she had the winning time of 5:04.25.
At the SeaKing district meet, she finished in 5:01.92 and broke a school record — one she had set earlier.
This time, Grundman will also be racing Sterner, her Spartan teammate. Sterner had a qualifying time of 5:06.67 and finished third at the district championships. (In second was Addie Chambers of Lakeside, last year’s number-two finisher at state, in 5:05.21.)
It should be quite the matchup. Sterner said the 500-yard freestyle is her best event.
“The longer the swim, the better I do,” Sterner said.
“I get into my own little zone, and I can ignore the pain and continue swimming. The faster it gets, the more out of control it feels. I like feeling in control, and I can feel that during my long races,” she said.
Grundman welcomed the challenge with a big smile.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to go back as the champion. If you come in as the champion, people do look to you, but I think my biggest pressure is from internal,” Grundman said. “I pressure myself to be the best that I can, whenever I get into the pool.”
“I’m looking to beat my time, and beat this one,” she said, nodding to Sterner.
Also making a return trip to state is Archer, who will compete in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.
A junior, it’s her third trip to the big meet.
“My freshman year, I just wild-carded and I didn’t make finals,” Archer recalled. “And then last year, I got second at state [in the 100-yard backstroke] and that was like completely out of the blue.”
Even so, she knows what it’s like to bring home a top title. Archer was on last year’s winning 200-yard medley relay team.
And it’s how the team triumphs as a whole that’s at the center of the Spartans’ journey back to state.
“Unlike most club swimming, state really is a team event. You win together, you lose together, and even if it’s just an individual event, everyone comes together and is cheering for you and it’s a really great rush,” Sterner said.
“It’s really unlike any other competition, with the speed and the competitiveness. The girls you compete with at state are in another class of swimmers,” she said.
The Spartans have won five state titles in girls swimming in the past 20 years, but last hoisted the team trophy in 2000. Winning will require besting their individual and relay performances at district, at least.
“I’m really excited to see what we can do as a team. I’m really hoping that I can push myself to be better than I have at any of the years before,” Grundman added.
The favorites for the 3A crown, of course, are the Islanders from Mercer Island.
Mercer Island won the SeaKing Championship last weekend, and piled up 333 points to the Spartans’ second-place finish of 272.
At last year’s state championships, Mercer Island finished first, and the Spartans, second.
Spartan Coach Greg Colby is realistic about the team’s chances.
“We’re not going to win it, but we’re going to swim fast and be very proud to accept the second place team trophy,” he said.
Colby figures that BHS is 70-plus points behind Mercer Island, the state champs for three years running.
“District 2 is the fastest meet in the state; Mercer Island and us. That’s pretty much how it’s going to play out at state as well,” Colby said.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible. But they are a well enough coached team that it’s not very likely that they will make any mistakes. Especially since we both DQ’d the relay at district.
“I’m sure that Chauntelle (Johnson, Mercer Island coach) is going to be detail orientated enough to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Colby said. And we’re definitely going to practice our relay starts to make sure that doesn’t happen again to us.”
That said, the Spartans will focus on what they can do to win, the coach said.
“Our focus is not to worry about Mercer Island and what they are doing. We have no control over that,” he said. “We are going to focus on good practices this week. Doing the things that we need to do in warm-ups and cool-downs at the meet to have our best performances. And just have fun.”
Other Spartans in the hunt for a title are Mikelle Ackerley in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle; Natalie Ackerley in the 200-yard IM and 100-yard backstroke; Bell in the 500-yard freestyle; Comeau in the 50-yard freestyle; Duni in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke; Griffiths in the 100-yard freestyle; Levy in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle; Murphy in the 100-yard backstroke; Peirano in the 200-yard IM and the 100-meter butterfly; Rosen in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle; Sellman in the 100-yard freestyle, Williams in the 100-yard backstroke; and Engelbrecht and Cooper in 1-meter diving.
Coach Colby said he would like to see Grundman defend her championship in the 500, and Sterner come back from her back injury.
“I really think Kay has set herself up. She has made sure that she’s done everything to make sure her back is 100 percent,” he said.
“She has just been on a tear,” he added. “She’s been swimming great all season, did great at the district meet. She’s had issues of coming back on day two and swimming as fast as she has in preliminaries — she’s definitely solved that this weekend.
“It would be awesome to see her end her high school career with another couple days of some really fine swimming,” he said.
Colby also is hoping for good things for Cooper, the team’s senior diver.
“That’s been a goal of hers all season; to get to state. To see her actually achieve it is awesome,” he said.
The coach said he expects to see faster times this weekend given the venue, the Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center.
“I think, really top to bottom, everybody can go faster,” he said. “If they can go the same speed, the same kind of races they did this past weekend, in that pool, they will go faster. It’s just a faster pool.”
The Spartans came away from the district championships with four wild car berths, and nearly every swimmer dropped their times in the finals from the preliminaries.
“It was incredibly fast Saturday,” Colby said. “It worries me a little bit; I hope they can match that performance coming up.”
Even so, he said the season has been hugely successful already.
“But the thing about making the state team, and the thing about this particular group of girls, is that they know they are not done yet,” he said. “They just have a certain way of making sure they are mentally and physically prepared for even better performances than at the district meet.
“They know that they have a little bit of unfinished business left.”
3A SeaKing District 2 Girls Championships Results
Girls 200-Yard Medley Relay
First: Bainbridge A, 1:49.31 (Shayla Archer, Ani Duni, Anna Peirano and Sarah Grundman)
Second: Bellevue A, 1:53.44 (Naomi Ngo, Kim Williams, Linnea Uyeno and Natalie Fontana)
Third: Mercer Island A, 1:54.16 (Maddie Larkin, Danielle Deiparine, Masami Cookson and Margaret Seaton)
Fourth: Interlake A, 1:55.46 (Anna Kimura, CC Hagen, Lianna Sutich and Cassidy McDermott)
Fifth: Lakeside A, 1:55.48 (Hannah Shabb, Helen Teegan, Lindsey Seidner and Emily Lang)
Girls 200-Yard Freestyle
First: Addie Chambers, Lakeside, 1:54.82
Second: Kay Sterner, Bainbridge, 1:55.42
Third: Mikelle Ackerley, Bainbridge, 1:56.54
Fourth: Caitlin Cox, Mercer Island, 1:58.36
Fifth: Alex Seidel, Mercer Island, 1:59.06
Girls 200-Yard IM
First: Kim Williams, Bellevue, 2:03.42
Second: Grace Wold, Mercer Island, 2:08.74
Third: Sarah Grundman, Bainbridge, 2:11.69
Fourth: Danielle Deiparine, Mercer Island, 2:12.77
Fifth: Hannah Shabb, Lakeside, 2:12.99
Sixth: Lindsey Seidner, Lakeside, 2:13.12
Seventh: Shayla Archer, Bainbridge, 2:10.83
Eighth: Naomi Ngo, Bellevue, 2:11.12
Ninth: Emily Olsen, Mercer Island, 2:13.83
10th: Maddie Larkin, Mercer Island, 2:14.99
11th: Natalie Ackerley, Bainbridge, 2:16.21
Girls 50-Yard Freestyle
First: Mackenna Briggs, Liberty, 24.37
Second: Sabrina Kwan, Mercer Island, 24.54
Third: Sydney Bishoff, Holy Names Academy, 24.94
Fourth: Helen Teegan, Lakeside, 25.21
Fifth: Margaret Seaton, Mercer Island, 25.25
Sixth: Amanda Comeau, Bainbridge, 25.81
Seventh: Ani Duni, Bainbridge, 25.31
Girls 1-Meter Diving
First: Meg Lindsay, Mercer Island, 367.00
Second: Shannon Engelbrecht, Bainbridge, 365.90
Third: Kayla DiMicco, Juanita, 336.70
Fourth: Christina Sargent, Liberty, 294.60
Fifth: Kittie Cooper, Bainbridge, 278.85
Sixth: Hadley Michaels, Mercer Island, 266.05
Seventh: Olivia Cero, Mercer Island, 262.45
Eighth: Koki Kresser, Bainbridge, 258.15
Ninth: Hannah Walsh, Bellevue, 245.30
10th: Sophia Cero, Mercer Island, 237.80
Girls 100-Yard Butterfly
First: Sabrina Kwan, Mercer Island, 56.63
Second: Grace Wold, Mercer Island, 58.18
Third: Kayla DiMicco, Juanita, 58.43
Fourth: Naomi Ngo, Bellevue, 58.46
Fifth: Sarah Ameny, Holy Names Academy, 59.31
Sixth: Sami Robbins, Holy Names Academy, 1:00.81
Seventh: Anna Peirano, Bainbridge, 58.18
Eighth: Masami Cookson, Mercer Island, 1:00.33
Ninth: Candice Rosen, Bainbridge, 1:00.80
10th: Lindsey Seidner, Lakeside, 1:01.03
Girls 100-Yard Freestyle
First: Kristin Hoffman, Mercer Island, 54.35
Second: Sydney Bishoff, Holy Names Academy, 54.55
Third: Mikelle Ackerley, Bainbridge, 54.72
Fourth: Alex Seidel, Mercer Island, 54.79
Fifth: Christina Williamson, Mercer Island, 56.19
Sixth: Kira Godfred, Mercer Island, 57.09
Seventh: Julia Griffiths, Bainbridge, 57.35
Eighth: Amanda Sellman, Bainbridge, 57.48
Ninth: Abby Wagner, Lakeside, 58.26
10th: Allie Knerr, Juanita, 58.98
Girls 500-Yard Freestyle
First: Sarah Grundman, Bainbridge, 5:01.92
Second: Addie Chambers, Lakeside, 5:05.21
Third: Kay Sterner, Bainbridge, 5:06.67
Fourth: Hannah Shabb, Lakeside, 5:17.63
Fifth: Candice Rosen, Bainbridge, 5:17.66
Sixth: Leah Fisk, Mercer Island, 5:20.17
Seventh: Masami Cookson, Mercer Island, 5:18.09
Eighth: Ellie Hohensinner, Liberty, 5:24.11
Girls 100-Yard Backstroke
First: Mackenna Briggs, Liberty, 56.78
Second: Shayla Archer, Bainbridge, 57.57
Third: Caitlin Cox, Mercer Island, 58.52
Fourth: Tess Farley, Juanita, 1:01.40
Fifth: Maddie Larkin, Mercer Island, 1:01.78
Sixth: Natalie Ackerley, Bainbridge, 1:02.96
Seventh: Lauryn Hepp, Liberty,3 1:01.78
Eighth: Lianna Sutich, Interlake, 1:03.01
Ninth: Kira Godfred, Mercer Island, 1:03.09
10th: Erin Williams, Bainbridge, 1:03.74
11th: Allison Murphy, Bainbridge, 1:04.56,
Girls 100-Yard Breaststroke
First: Kim Williams, Bellevue, 1:04.55
Second: Ani Duni, Bainbridge, 1:08.67
Third: Danielle Deiparine, Mercer Island, 1:08.72
Fourth: Helen Teegan, Lakeside, 1:08.75
Fifth: Leah Fisk, Mercer Island, 1:09.59
Sixth: Anna Kimura, Interlake, 1:09.95
Seventh: Sofija Raisys, Mercer Island. 1:12.52
Eighth: Christina McDermott, Bellevue, 1:12.64
Ninth: Melinda Carr, Bainbridge, 1:13.27
Girls 400-Yard Freestyle Relay
First: Bainbridge A, 3:40.17 (Mikelle Ackerley, Candice Rosen, Kay Sterner and Sarah Grundman)
Second: Mercer Island, 3:41.50 (Masami Cookson, Kira Godfred, Emily Olsen and Caitlin Cox)
Third: Juanita A, 3:43.30 (Julia Andersson, Tess Farley, Anna Michel and Kayla DiMicco)
Fourth: Bellevue A, 3:43.57 (Naomi Ngo, Linnea Uyeno, Christina McDermott and Kim Williams)
Fifth: Lakeside A, 3:47.29 (Lindsey Seidner, Abby Wagner, Hannah Shabb and Addie Chambers)