SPARTAN SPORTS PREVIEW | Bainbridge loses some state vets, but still have strong core

Amanda Comeau completes a lap at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center while teammates Alyssa Estes, Celia Chaussabel, Julia Lapin and Carina Laukaitis get ready for warmups in the background. - Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review
Amanda Comeau completes a lap at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center while teammates Alyssa Estes, Celia Chaussabel, Julia Lapin and Carina Laukaitis get ready for warmups in the background.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

Three and three.

That’s the great goal this year for the Spartan girls swimming and diving team.

Translation: a top three finish in the state 3A tournament, and top three finishes in all three relay events.

Still, it’s not a fantastically new expectation for Coach Greg Colby.

“I kind of come in to every season with, we want to be a top three team in the state. And we want to place top three in all three relays,” Colby said.

The Spartans are missing some top performers from the team that finished last year as the state’s No. 2 team, right behind Mercer Island.

Gone to graduation is Sarah Grundman, who won back-to-back state titles in the 500-yard freestyle. Grundman was also part of the BHS relay team that won the 200-yard medley at state last year and broke the 3A meet record.

Also departed, state-meet stalwarts such as Kay Sterner, Julia Griffiths and diver Shannon Engelbrecht.

“We lost 10 seniors,” Colby said, also noting the loss of other swimmers who didn’t return.

That said, turnout was good this year, with 13 new additions to the team.

“We are exactly the same size as last year,” Colby said.

The returning Spartans include a roster filled with state-caliber swimmers.

Included in that list of notable returners: Shayla Archer, who won the state title in the 100-yard backstroke in 56.18 to become the fastest 100-meter backstroker in Bainbridge history.

Also add Ani Duni, who swam with Archer, Grundman and Anna Peirano in the 200-yard medley at state last year, won the state title in the event and broke the 3A meet record while doing it.

And don’t forget state meet veterans Geneva Levy, Candice Rosen and Erin Williams.

“I think the strokes - our fly, back and breaststrokes - are going to be good. I think our IMs [individual medley] are going to be good,” Colby said.

The relay teams should do well, too, he said, which bodes well for state competition.

All told, Colby figures he’s got about 10 returners from last year’s state team.

“That’s a little above average,” Colby said, but he also added the notable departures have created new opportunities for this year’s Spartan squad.

“There’s spots open. And it kind of motivates them,” he said.

The new swimmers on the team aren’t new to the sport. Still, the pace of competition will be different.

“Probably half of the new freshmen are club swimmers, so they have racing experience. They know all four strokes; they know the events. So that’s good,” Colby said. “So in that way, skill levels are up.”

But for club swimmers accustomed to a layoff of a month or more between competitions, the Spartan schedule will be a drastic switch.

Over the past week, the team had three meets — all on the road.

The past week should be a good launching pad for tougher tests ahead in October.

“Team-wise we started a little slower this year, as far as intensity. But we got a lot more work to do this year; strength and length and intensity of practices. It’s early yet in the season.

“We actually don’t have as many September meets as we have had in the past,” Colby added. “But we’re going to fire it up in October and have some really tough dual meets.”

Bainbridge welcomes an “always tough” Newport team Oct. 3 to the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center.

An important and early assessment point will come on Oct. 5, at the Mukilteo Invite at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way.

“That’s a chance to swim in a fast pool. That’s an important one for us,” he said.

The Spartans host powerhouse Mercer Island on Oct. 17.

Mercer Island edged Bainbridge for the state team title last year, and the Islanders have won the 3A crown four years in a row.

It’s a late date with the Islanders, the coach noted.

“That’s about as late in the season as we’ve ever had a dual meet with them. I expect it to be an extremely fast meet. And, a little preview of both the SeaKing, the district championships and the state championships at the state level.

“We’ll see what the state champs will do. Every season’s new,” Colby said.

Even so, the Mercer Island meet is just one stop on the way to the goal.

Three and three.

“That would be fantastic,” Colby said. I don’t know of anyone who would say that’s anything but a tremendously successful season if we pull that off.”

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