Sports

It’s back to the big top for swimmers

Twelve Spartans ready to make their mark at the 2A/3A state meet in Federal Way.

They’ve put in their yardage, they’ve spent many an early bird morning in the pool and they’ve gone through the dual meet battles with some of the best in the state.

Now, 12 members of the Bainbridge girls swim and dive team take part in the 2A/3A state swim and dive meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way this weekend to try and add their name into the record books.

At press time, several athletes have made it into the finals Saturday morning.

Keziah Beall finished fifth overall in the 200 freestyle while India Wade was 14th overall.

Julie Pendleton was fifth in the 200 individual medley while Kristine Valdez was 12th.

Tessa Griffin was 12th in the 50 freestyle.

Isabel Williams took third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 58.27 with the top two – Kennedy’s Nikki Vetterlein and Highline’s Beth Cate – tying for first with a time of 58.22.

Pendleton finished ninth in the 100 butterfly.

Beall took fourth in the 100 freestyle while Wade was 11th.

Williams was fourth in the 100 backstroke while Kristine Valdez was 19th.

The top 16 overall in each event move to the finals, with the top eight shooting for a state title.

Head coach Greg Colby said he feels the team will perform well this weekend thanks to their strong times at districts last week and their overall performance in dual meets this season.

“I feel really good about our individual performances,” he said. “There’s no doubt we need to get some good fast swims, but I can’t wait for Saturday.

“This week’s practice has been real smooth,” he continued. “Nobody has melted down. It’s been all good signs.”

Several swimmers were seeded near the top in several events coming into the prelims yesterday.

Beall, one of several swimmers who is a state qualifier for four years in a row, is fifth in the 200 freestyle.

Skyline’s Andie Taylor, who has qualified for two events in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, leads the pack with her new state record time of 1:48.51.

Beall is also seeded second in the 100 freestyle with her time of 54.43 just .62 of a second behind favorite Brianne Lindblad of Kennedy.

“I am a little nervous,” she said “Brianne is dominant in this event so she’s definitely out to defend her title.

“I would be totally happy with second place,” she continued. “That would be a big achievement for me. But I think I’m going to do just fine.”

Williams – who won the first 100 butterfly state title in school history last year – is also seeded near the top in two events.

She’s seeded sixth in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 100 backstroke.

“I’m nervous,” she said of the prospects of repeating in the fly and adding a title in the back. “But I’m excited.”

“I don’t feel like I’m in as good as shape or tapered as well as I was last year, so I’m a little nervous just to see how I do,” Williams continued. “I’m just trying to keep everything in perspective just because it’s the last one.”

Julie Pendleton is seeded fifth in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 100 butterfly.

India Wade is 13th in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 100 freestyle, while Kristine Valdez is 11th in the 200 individual medley and 18th in the 100 backstroke.

Colby said the performance of the three juniors this year have been “huge.”

“India made a breakthrough last year when on the Tuesday after state was over, she got back in the water with her club team because she said ‘If I wait any longer I won’t do it.’ It’ll be huge for next year.

“Julie just gets back in the water,” Colby continued. “She’s just beginning to realize her potential.

“She’s always a hard worker but now she’s working harder and smarter.”

Griffin is 15th in the 50 freestyle.

“You never really know (who will win) because it’s such a close race,” she said. “Most events are separated by seconds and tenths. The 50 is separated by hundredths (of seconds.)

“I’m definitely nervous because I’m not ranked as high as I was the past three years but I’m excited because I just want to go out really fast and show them what I’ve got.”

All three relays are seeded in third behind Kennedy and Mercer Island.

Williams, Pendleton, Wade and Griffin make up the 200 medley relay, while Griffin, Leah Erickson, Pendleton and Beall make up the 200 freestyle relay.

Wade, Valdez, Williams and Beall make up the 400 freestyle relay.

Colby said he’s thinking a lot about the performance of the teams.

“I’m really emphasizing the relays,” he said. “They’ve got to hold their positions.

“We have to swim faster and we have the ability to do that,” Colby continued. “If we can do that it’ll be a boost to individuals to get fired up about their races.”

Beall said they’re nervous but ready to go in those races.

“To be seeded third against two really strong teams like JFK and Mercer – it’s scary but I think everyone’s pretty mentally ready,” she said.

Griffin said with how close they are to Kennedy and Mercer timewise, it’ll all come down to who has the best swim that day.

“I think it’s going to come down to which team prepares better,” she said. “The swims last week were some of the best we’ve done in my four years on the team.

“We’ve got some awesome new people like Leah and it’s so exciting to have new people come in and swim the best,” Griffin continued. “It’s going to come down to who can execute their race the best.”

And whether they win a title or not, they’ll be happy to do their best.

“As long as we see a great effort out of them and they enjoy themselves and have fun, I’ll be pleased,” Colby said.

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