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Swimmers swamp state-champion Bellevue
"It was September only on the calendar.To judge by the electrically charged atmosphere crackling in the air and water Friday afternoon at the Ray Williamson Memorial Pool, however, the feel was pure November.November is when the the Bainbridge High School girls' swim-and-dive team make its annual appearance - some might say dominance - at the league, district and state championships. And what took place between the Spartans and archrival Bellevue could well be a season-ending showdown preview between two of the top 3A teams in Washington.If so, consider Bainbridge the frontrunner - especially after crushing the defending state 3A champions by a 110-72 score before a packed house in their home pool.You don't get this very often in September, Bainbridge coach Greg Colby said. It was loud and packed and intense, and it was a great shot of confidence that we can take into our championship meet season.The performances can amply attest to that. The Spartan 200 medley relay quartet of junior Helen Silver, freshman Meredith Blumenthal, junior Melissa Clune and freshman Emily Silver set a high meet standard from the very first event, posting a superlative 1:50.42 - just one one-hundredth of a second off the school and pool record set last season, and exactly two seconds off last November's first-place state-meet performance.After senior Leslie Wukstich qualified for the state meet with a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle race, Helen Silver smashed a pool record in the 200 individual medley, knocking former Spartan great Megan Reha off the Ray Williamson record board with a stunning 2:07.83 swim - nearly 1 1/2 seconds better than the old standard.Emily Silver, Helen's younger sister, then posted a stunner of her own - recording a 24.34 time in the 50 freestyle event that was more than a second and a half better than the state qualifying standard.Senior Jaron Santelli, a first-year varsity swimmer, also sneaked in a state-qualifying time in the same event by just five one-hundredths of a second. Tessa Mabry and Jasmine Dupont finished 1-2 themselves in the 1-meter diving event, setting up Clune's smashing of her own 100 butterfly record by a half-second at 58:28. Emily Silver then stunned the crowd anew with a 52:57 performance in the 100 freestyle race that just edged out Bellevue's best sprinter, Crystal Rawlings, by a mere .16 of a second.The beat just kept going on.Wukstich won the 500 free, just missing a state qualifying time, then provided the decisive anchor leg in the 200 free relay team that just edged out Bellevue's by one-tenth of a second. That was followed by Helen Silver's next salvo - a 57.61 first-place, pool-record-setting showing in her marquee event, the 100 backstroke, for which she was last season's state champion.The day closed with the Silver sisters, along with Sarah Weigle and Wukstich, clearing the state-qualifying standard for the 400 relay event by more than 12 seconds, at 3:42.76.Helen Silver, for one, admitted that the prospect of beating Bellevue brought out her most competitive instincts.I was so pumped for the entire week - the adrenaline was just rushing through my veins, said Silver, making her season debut in her specialty events. I didn't know just how good the competition was going to be, so I wanted to go all out.Colby said everyone else felt the same.Mentally, we really focused on this meet, and the kids stepped up when they needed to, said Colby, who admitted stacking his lineups for each event like a state meet - with the best swimmers in their best events - rather than using the usual September strategy of trying untested kids in different events to get them necessary experience. I didn't have any expectation of beating Bellevue by the margin we did - some of those times came out of nowhere.And if they go into the district and state meets with the same kind of focus, who knows what could happen?Then again, he cautioned, it was still a September meet.Bellevue, he said, is going to train hard and come back at us at state with a vengeance. They must be thinking, how much faster can we go?It's going to be a huge battle. "