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Swimmers count on depth -- SPORTS PREVIEW

"This year, the Bainbridge High School boys’ swim-and-dive team has the ideal combination of quality competitors and enviable depth in every event.“While I’m always optimistic about our chances, I really believe that we are the team to beat in the Olympic League and at district,” said Spartan head coach Joe Black, who’s in the third season of his second go-around with the squad.The numbers – 29 swimmers and four divers after 18 total in 1997 and 24 last year – bear out Black’s optimism.“This is the first year that we’ll really be able to fill all the events,” he said.Not that the previous years have been chopped liver: Last year’s team was second in the Olympic League, second in the West Central District and had two relay teams and half a dozen individual entries at the state 3A championships.With three seniors back from state, half a dozen strong up-and-comers and a pair of experienced divers, Black and assistant coach Greg Colby – who led the Spartan girls this fall to a third-place finish at state – feel especially confident.“They want to time-trial all the time,” Black said. “I know that we’ll have some surprises as the season goes on. There are undoubtedly some jewels in there that we don’t even know about.”Chief among those he does know about are three seniors, Dan Davies and co-captains Joey Barrett and Cooper Rooks. Rooks, slowed by a shoulder injury from fall water-polo play, will swim the 100-yard backstroke and the 200 and 500 freestyle events.“We have a lot of strong swimmers, so we should do pretty well,” he said. “But I also know that more than the wins and losses, what you really remember is how much fun you had. We have a group of really fun guys, and keeping that spirit is a definite goal.“Even if I can’t swim for a while, I want to be there in spirit.”Barrett, a freestyle specialist, will try to improve on his personal bests of 23.7 and 53.0 seconds, respectively, in the 50 and 100 free competitions. And Davies is off to a standout start, having already exceeded the state meet qualifying standard in time trials for the 100 breaststroke before the start of the season.He’s also a strong 50 freestyle competitor, and will likely return to last year’s state-level 200 medley squad.“I’m very excited about the season,” Davies said. “I kept in shape from water polo, so I’m building on that.“And I think our team will be really strong. We have more depth this year, and a lot of our freshmen are already fast swimmers. So we’ll not only get first places, but also thirds and fourths.”Helping the cause will be senior Jeff Bartunek, who will replace state-quality stalwart Chris Colley in the 200 and 500 free events.“I’ll be shocked if he’s not faster than the 1:55 and 5:20 he notched last year at the district meet,” Black said.Junior Jeff Christensen will bolster the relay teams and compete in the 100 butterfly, while fellow multiple-relay racer Erik Steinecker will also be tested in a number of individual events.Sophomore Nick Rodda is another “utility kid,” in Black’s view, and will be tried in the 100 butterfly, 200 free and 200 individual medley.Leading the freshman pack are Nate Rooks and Jacob Whitmore, both of whom can capably swim all four strokes and have placed in the 10 among team members in the 50 and 100 freestyle time trials to date.The divers are led by returning seniors Dan Fisher and Nathan Walker. Both posted top-six finishes in the league and district meets as sophomores and juniors, with Fisher just missing a state berth by scant points last season. they’re joined by senior Gordon DuPont and sophomore Kris Ley.Others back for another varsity season are senior Prentiss Andrews, junior Andrew Sperling and sophomores Dylan Cool and Blaine Ness.Boys’ swim and dive scheduleThurs., Dec. 2 at Marysville-Pilchuck, 3:30 p.m.Tues., Dec. 7 at Peninsula/Shelton, 3:30 p.m.Thurs., Dec. 9 at North Kitsap, 3:30 p.m. Tues., Dec. 14 vs. Port Angeles, 3:30 p.m.Thurs., Dec. 16 at CK School District, 3:30 p.m.Fri., Jan. 7 vs. North Kitsap, 3:30 p.m.Tues., Jan. 11 at Port Angeles, 3:30 p.m.Thurs., Jan. 13 vs. CK School District, 3:30 p.m.Tues., Jan. 18 vs. Clover Park, 3:30 p.m.Fri., Jan. 21 League Championships (at home), 12 p.m.Feb. 4-5 West Central District Meet (at Clover Park)Feb. 18-19 State 3A Championships (at Federal Way)"

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