Whalen, Spartan swimmers set top marks

Sophmore Inga Christopherson competes in the 100-meter breaststroke Tuesday at Ray Williamson Pool. She came in third place with a time of 1:23.74. - JULIE BUSCH photo
Sophmore Inga Christopherson competes in the 100-meter breaststroke Tuesday at Ray Williamson Pool. She came in third place with a time of 1:23.74.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

The senior diver re-breaks her record while Scott, relays stay fast in the water.

Back in late September, Bainbridge girls dive coach Chris Miller said that he felt Stephanie Whalen would re-break her newly set diving record before the season was out.

Circle gets the square.

The senior scored 247.9 points on six dives Tuesday at the Bainbridge Aquatics Center against the Kamiak Knights and the Gig Harbor Tides, besting her four-week-old record of 246.10 set at the Spartans’ last home meet against Newport on Sept. 20.

Whalen’s lowest score was a 34.5, as she earned marks of 48 and 48.1. All her dives were rated at a degree of difficulty of 1.7 or higher, with her last dive, a front one and a half somersault with two twists being rated at a 2.6.

She set the record despite diving with a painful hip problem. Whalen said she didn’t know when she injured herself, but she’s been to the doctors and they determined it was a problem with her cartilage or ligaments, which may mean tendinitis.

“It bothers me a lot, but there’s not much I can do about it,” she said while receiving congratulatory hugs from teammates. “It’s been acting up for a while.”

Miller said the double twist was a new dive that she just started this year, but her ability to nail it shows how hard she’s been working at her craft.

“She’s a good, tough, hard worker,” he said. “Coaching her is like you’ve died and gone to coaching heaven. She’s clearly making her mark as the best diver Bainbridge Island has ever seen.”

Whalen, who is considering attending either Virginia Tech or the University of California after graduation, said she had worked on many of the dives last year, and this year she’s been “perfecting” them for competition.

“It’s nice to know how to be comfortable with the dive and it’s just easier to do them well and under a lot of stress,” she said.

The Spartans have been under some stress as well, even with the relative ease in which they defeated Kamiak and Gig Harbor by the scores of 110-75 and 117.5-68.5, respectively.

“We’ve been swimming tired,” head swim coach Greg Colby said “Most of them are (tired), and they’re still racing pretty well. We’re real pleased.”

The team has been grinding through its season with two meets a week including dual championships or invitationals on Saturday, plus two practices a day.

“Right now, everyone’s pretty tired. I’m pretty tired, so times are OK,” said Anne Scott. “We’ve had at least two meets per week and morning practices are still intense, so we’ll taper later, but that’s in three, four weeks.”

Scott was first in the 50 free with a state qualifying time of 24.06 and first in the 100 free with another state qualifying time of 53.29.

“I went for the record, but I was slow,” she said.

She was also on the 200 medley relay with Isabel Williams, Julie Pendleton and Tessa Griffin that finished first with a state qualifying time of 1:55.78 and on the 400 free relay with Griffin, India Wade and Keziah Beall that placed first with a state qualifying time of 3:47.04.

Scott said the history and record of the 400 free relay teams is impressive and to be part of that is “amazing.”

“It’s pretty cool to be carrying on (that tradition),” she said.

Wade and Griffin were on the first place 200 free relay team along with April Isa and Meg Wittekind as they scored a state qualifying time of 1:46.47. Griffin was also first in the 100 butterfly, while Wade was first in the 200 freestyle with a state qualifying time of 2:02.87 and first in the 100 backstroke with a state qualifying time of 1:02.77.

Williams placed first in the 200 individual medley with a state qualifying time of 2:15.91 while Beall placed first in the 500 freestyle.

Colby said he is happy with the progress his team has made and thinks they’re in line for a state title run.

“Dual meet-wise, I think it would be hard to say that we’re not the best team in the state, probably 3A or 4A,” he said, noting that they could go undefeated for the first time since 1994. “I don’t know what some of the southwest teams are ranked, but certainly west of the mountains and in the northwestern part of the state, I’d say we’re definitely the best dual meet team, and that should translate into a championship season.”

The Spartans will be without Anna Pollock, who cut her ankle on chipped tiles while making the turn during the 400 free relay. She will need stitches, and it is unknown when she will be back.

Bainbridge takes on Mercer Island today at the Mary Wayte Pool on Mercer Island.

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