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Swimmers looking to still make a splash
With a much smaller group than in year’s past, the Bainbridge girls swim and dive team may not have the best dual meet record this season or be considered the favorites for a 3A state title.
But head coach Greg Colby said it’s been a lot easier for the coaches to manage a smaller team.
“They’re going to get a lot more training and they’ll get more personal attention which equates to better coaching,” he said. “(Plus) we get to do some actual coaching.”
Last season, the Spartans ended up with a fourth place finish, but no individuals or relay teams came home with titles.
Twelve seniors were lost to graduation, including many who provided depth and several who have been the main scorers for Bainbridge for the past two years including Isabel Williams, Keziah Beall and Tessa Griffin.
Several more swimmers also moved on to other sports or moved away.
But even with the small squad – Colby estimates they’ll have about 27 swimmers once everyone gets their paperwork turned in – he’s excited about the potential of the team.
Many swimmers trained on their own or with the Bainbridge Island Swimming Club during the offseason.
“The kids that have come out have shown a great work ethic,” he said. “I think we’ve seen a lot of improvement.
“I think at the state level we’ll be OK because we’ll still get at least one scorer in every event.
“We have a lot of swimmers that have a lot of great potential,” senior co-captain India Wade said. “We’ll just have to work a bit harder to get those top times.”
Colby also feels the mood will be a bit more relaxed than last season.
“There was a lot of drama (last season) and it just distracted the team,” he said. “These guys seem more focused... they’ve just buckled down at these practices and gone to work.”
Wade and senior Julie Pendleton felt the smaller team will help make everyone more unified.
“With a big team, it’s easier for people to break off into smaller groups,” Wade said. “With a smaller group it’s easier to be more cohesive. Greg’s going to be able to get more people in the weight room and we’ll be able to have more people swim.”
Pendleton said the reduced size of the team makes it easier for everyone to get their yardage in, as there weren’t enough lanes for everyone to have even space to swim last year.
“Even if you’re the best of friends you can still get mad at each other,” she said. “This year it’s just a lot easier to handle.”
Some of the standout returners include Wade and Pendleton along with senior co-captain Kristine Valdez. All three have state experience and have been key members of the relay teams for the past few years.
They’ll take part in the relays again this year while Pendleton will swim the 200 meter individual medley and the 100 meter butterfly.
Wade will swim the 200 and 100 freestyle while Valdez moves to the 100 free and the 100 backstroke. A knee injury suffered during the summer may keep her out of the 200 IM.
Several other returners that Colby feels can make state include the lone diver in senior Kate McKenzie, senior co-captain Lisa Heinlen, senior Emily Sonnenfeld, senior Shannon Stahl and senior Margaret Huisinga.
“Shannon’s worked her butt of this past (off)season,” Colby said. “She’s got a legitimate chance to be on a relay or a relay alternate.”
Another swimmer that Colby said “has a ton of potential” is senior Alyssa Konkel, who came out as a sophomore but spent last season with the color guard.
“She looks great in the water and is really strong,” Colby said.
Some newcomers that Colby and the captains feel they could make an impact are freshman Cameo Hlebasko, a standout swimmer with BISC, and freshman Tess Harper.
Colby plans on swimming Hlebasko in the 200 free and the 500 free and some relays.
“Cameo will make an impact at state,” Colby said. “She’s pretty strong.”
With the small numbers, several swimmers will have to cover many events, making fatigue a factor. Colby is still unsure who will do the 100 breaststroke.
While Bainbridge has lost several swimmers, so have several other perennial powers around the state. Wade feels Kennedy is still the team to beat, while Colby sees Kennedy and Mercer Island, among several other teams, that can contend for a title.
“I think it might be a little tighter point-wise at state, but it’ll be the usual suspects,” he said.
Colby said he has “guarded confidence” that Bainbridge can earn a trophy. But he would be just as happy if the younger swimmers can have a good season and make huge strides in the pool.
“I really see the potential for a lot of them to improve,” he said. “We won’t lose very many seniors from this year, so if we have this core group move from district qualifiers to borderline state qualifiers and we get over that hump, we’ll have a killer team next year.”
“We’re not going to have too many JV heats (this season),” he continued. “We’ll be barely able to cover the lineup. But the kids will get a lot of swims and compete a lot.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Bainbridge opens the season at Mercer Island Sept. 9. Their first home meet is against Camas Sept. 12.
2008 girls swim
● The Spartans kick off the season at rival Mercer Island as they work toward the state meet in Federal Way.
Tuesday, Sept. 9 - at Mercer Island, 3:40 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 12 - vs. Camas, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 13 - 23rd annual Spartan Relays vs. Marysville-Pilchuk, Camas, Central Kitsap, Sehome and Roosevelt, noon
Tuesday, Sept. 16 - at Newport, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 - vs. Kamiak, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 23 - vs. Port Angeles, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 4 - at Mukilteo Invite at King County Aquatic Center
*Tuesday, Oct. 10 - at Gig Harbor, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 14 - vs. Sequim, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 18 - vs. Eastmont
Tuesday, Oct. 28 - vs. Holy Names, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 31 - at Metro qualifying meet at Helene Madison Pool, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 6 - Friday, Nov. 7 - at 3A Sea-King District 2 meet at Hec Ed Pool at the University of Washington, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 11 - Saturday, Nov. 15 - at 3A state meet at KCAC
(*Date subject to change. The team may add one more meet against Mt. Rainier in October. Check the team’s website at http://www.bainbridge.wednet.edu/bhs/sports/girls%20swimming/index.html for updates.)