The pool is positively packed.
The Bainbridge Spartans girls swimming & diving team will test the waters this season with one of its biggest teams in years.
More than 50 swimmers have come out for the team — 51, to be exact — and Coach Sarah Bullock said that’s more swimmers than the 2017 squad, which had 40 athletes and placed sixth in last year’s state championships.
“And 25 are new, so almost half the team is new,” Bullock said.
There are also some junior transfers on the squad, as well as a few Spartans who came out for the team for their senior year.
“We’ve got 11 more people coming out for the team, which is great. And also a challenge, because we only have six lanes. We’ve had to modify our workouts a little bit.
“The team dynamic is awesome. There’s a lot of fresh energy and people are excited to be here,” Bullock added.
But while the team lost a dozen from last year’s team to graduation, Bullock said the impact won’t be great.
“We didn’t lose the core of the team. Like the relay teams; we lost maybe one or two people from each relay. The bulk of the team is returning,” she said.
The relay teams from last year’s state meet weren’t made up of senior swimmers, Bullock noted.
“We lost Erin Miller, that’s a hole. But the rest of the relay teams were made up of underclassmen anyway. And they are training really hard.”
A lot of the freshmen joining the team swim year round in club programs, the coach said, which bodes for a pretty good season for the Spartans, especially in freestyle racing.
“We’ll be really strong in the free relays, I think. We’ll have some great distance freestyle; I think we’ll have some really good backstroke [swimmers].
“Pretty much all the events — I think we’ll be pretty strong in,” she said.
Jackie Hellmers, who placed seventh at state in diving in 2017, is returning to the team. She’ll be joined by senior Karena Klinkenberg, a gymnast who will be diving, and Bryn Tiernan, a freshman.
Other seniors on the team are Anna Russell, Courteney Fleming, Hannah Lee, Hannah Tonsmann, Jules Moeller, Laura Murphy, Nora Joslin, Shea Schardein and Trudy Rimbault.
The juniors are Corinne Grayson, Delaney Taylor, Emily Solly Tanner, Ghenwa Ramadan, Jillian Webb, Milena Broom, Moorea Eldon-Everts, Xaveria Rodriguez and Zeya Korytko.
Sophomores on the team include Amelia Kimball, Anna Thompson, Claire Camacho, Elena Conklin, Jaqueline Hall, Julia Nordgren, Linda Lincoln, Lucia Opalka, Naomi Howard and Zoey Ragan.
And freshman joining the Spartan swim team are Jessica Patterson, Annie Brooks, Eden Michael, Emily Hung, Faith Kerrigan, Grace Pratt, Juliette Dashe, Kate Schmidt, Kate Tlapa, Kylie Jones, Lila Burke, Lila Schroer, Lorelei Dean, Lucy King, Maja Carroll, Margaret Hayes, Siena Levan, Sydney Thompson, Vivian Morrow and Zoe Gacioch.
The season starts at home on Friday, Sept. 7 against Ballard.
“They are strong, but we should be able to beat them,” Bullock said.
The following day, on Saturday, Sept. 8, the Spartan Relays will be held at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center. The meet starts at 1 p.m., and Bainbridge will play host to Central Kitsap, Marysville-Getchell, Marysville-Pilchuck, Port Angeles, Sehome and Holy Names Academy.
The Spartans are excited to welcome HNA, the team that beat BHS at districts and state last year.
“We’ll be gunning for them,” Bullock said.
Seven of the 11 meets are at home this year. Bainbridge will travel to Seattle for a contest against Garfield on Sept. 14, and also swim at the Mukilteo Invite on Sept. 29. The District 2 Dive Qualifier is in Juanita on Oct. 6, and the Spartans also travel to Gig Harbor for a meet Oct. 9.
Preseason practices have been focused a bit on technique, the coach said.
“Our underwater and turn work is a little sloppy right now. A lot of races are won with the underwater kicks,” Bullock said. “We need to sharpen those skills a little bit.”
The Spartans have a dual focus right now, she said.
“We need to build them back up to the yardage, and then we also need to emphasize the technique,” Bullock said. “You can only go so far with bad technique.”