Swimmers won’t hold back in chase for state in 2008

Spartans want to take home a state trophy in February.

Austin Hallett said he wanted to set the school record for the 50 freestyle at Bainbridge’s meet against South Kitsap Tuesday.

“I tried to shoot for it but I quite didn’t get it,” the senior co-captain said. “I think it was a combination of getting in late Sunday night (from watching the University of California win their 13th national championship in water polo over USC last weekend) and only getting a few hours sleep on Sunday.

“I’m definitely feeling it right now.”

He certainly felt well enough to come up a second short of the record, taking first in the event and posting a state qualifying time of 22.33.

Hallett also posted a state qualifying time of 48.17 in the 100 freestyle and helped two Spartan relay teams win its events in Bainbridge’s victory over the Wolves by the score of 114-72.

The performance by Hallett this season will be one of the keys to the Spartans making it back to the state meet in February, an event that the team feels they’ll be at in great numbers.

Along with Hallett, who has been to state all three years, Cheyne Clark looks to be a favorite to return to state and contend for a title.

The senior co-captain has taken fifth in the diving competition the past two seasons – missing out on fourth by just hundredths of a point each time – but Clark said he’s got his eyes on the prize this season.

“I’m pretty good friends with (Mercer Island diver) Beau Riebe,” he said. “We’ve known each other for a while, so I texted him (Monday) and said ‘I’m taking state from you this year.’

“The goal is to get Olaf’s records,” he continued. “For six dives I think I can do it, but I don’t know about 11 (dives).”

Clark got off on a rough start by being off on two of his dives, but nailed the last one to earn him 7.5s across the board that was good enough for a six dive total score of 262.20.

His improvement has come thanks to diving year round.

“His attitude is, what can he personally do (to improve),” head coach Kaycee Taylor said. “He’s wanted to get fifth out of his head for two years now.”

Both Clark and Hallett will be part of a team that has its goal set on taking home a state trophy this season.

The Spartans’ highest finish as a team was second place in 1988.

Last season they took fourth at the Metro tournament, sixth at districts and tied for seventh in state, their second straight top-10 finish.

Olaf Olson won his second straight diving title while Hallett took home a pair of bronzes in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

This season, Bainbridge is well on its way with the times they’ve accrued.

“I can’t think of a time that we’ve had so many individual and relay (state qualifying) times done this early,” Taylor said. “Two meets down and we’ve got two relays out of the way.”

But when he was asked if they would have done the same last year before the weather cancellations, Taylor said no.

“It’s an interesting idea,” he said. “(But) this year we have two swimmers (in) David Ortyn and Kevin Brooks who are swimming faster than they did last year because of what they did in the offseason. I’ve seen the biggest drop in their times from last season.”

“Where we are this year, even with the weather delays, we’re better off than (last year) if we had no delays.

The 400 freestyle relay team qualified in last Friday’s 120-47 win over Bishop Blanchet.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Ortyn, Brooks, Cooper Ashley and Hallett made it with their first place time of 1:33.66 Tuesday.

The 200 medley relay team of PJ Trimble, Clark, Pollock and Ashley just missed a state time Tuesday with their first place time of 1:50.86.

Along with Hallett’s state times, Ortyn qualified for the 200 individual medley as well with state times.

The relays will be key for the team this year to earn points and Clark feels they have strong swimmers across the board.

“The relays are going to be awesome,” he said. “It’s the same state medley team from last year and we were able to place so I see our times improving higher for everyone, so it’s really exciting.”

As for Hallett, who owns every individual record save for the 50 free (he broke the 100 butterfly record last Friday), Taylor said he’s not too worried if arguably the greatest swimmer in school history doesn’t get a state title.

“Austin’s a very smart athlete and he knows his strengths and his limitations,” he said. “If he gets third (at state) but has every record on that board? That’s not a bad way to go out.

“I don’t feel too much pressure,” Hallett said. “I’ve felt more pressure in previous years because I knew my times were competitive but the state meet was more competitive than I thought.

“This year I’m going out and having fun but I think this will be one of the better years for Bainbridge, so I’m focusing on that as a whole.”

Taylor sees the team making it one of the better years as well.

“We have faster times, we’re a healthy team and we’re very positive about what this season can bring for us,” he said.

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