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Boys swim team has quantity – quality, too?
Following on the heels of the Bainbridge High boys’ best state meet finish under Coach Kaycee Taylor, Taylor welcomes the team’s largest-ever turnout as he prepares for the upcoming season.
The squad of 30 swimmers jammed one end of the pool deck at a recent workout. Even with its new numbers, the team will be challenged to match last year’s sixth-place finish at state.
Indeed, the team was in the hunt for the fourth-place trophy as one of five teams within 12 points of each other going into the meet’s final event. But both Mt. Rainier and Seattle Prep finished ahead of the Spartans in the relay race.
“We just took six swimmers,” Taylor said of last year’s meet. “To do that well is pretty good.”
Taylor won’t be around for the state meet this year, as he leaves at the end of December for a yearlong exchange-teacher program in Australia. Assistant Coach Greg Colby, head coach for the girls’ program, will assume the helm.
“I have one returning senior, several new seniors and a lot of freshmen,” Taylor said.
Bainbridge may not have a diver this year as junior Ian Layton is injured. If he is unable to compete, it would end a five-year string of successes for divers at the state meet, beginning in 2004 with Olaf Olson’s sixth-place finish. Olson was second the following year and won in 2006 and 2007. Cheyne Clark finished second last year as a senior.
One key to doing well at state is a high placing in the three relays – 200 IM, 200 free and 400 free – since those events carry twice the points as individual events.
Six key members of this year’s team will play a vital role in those relays: senior Zak Gosney, juniors David Ortyn and Cody Jenkins, sophomore Quinn Cullen, and freshmen Andrew McCarthy and Colin Chupik. Ortyn swam on the 200 and 400 relays at state last year, in addition to placing fourth in the 100 fly.
“They can rotate into any of the relays,” Taylor said.
He appreciates what McCarthy and Chupik, both veterans of the Bainbridge Island Swim Club, bring to the program. “They’re freshmen but they know how a workout works,” he said. “They bring a fresh work ethic to the team.”
Taylor singled out senior Jake Estes for similar reasons. “He’s never been on a swim team, but he wanted to do cross-conditioning. Sometimes cross-conditioners can be more trouble than they’re worth, but Jake helps others, tries new things and provides leadership.”
Of the other team members, Taylor said: “We have a lot of up-and-coming middle-of-the-road kids. They’re all eager to do drills and learn new skills. They have a lot of potential for the third spot in individual events.”
Typical of this group are sophomores Trevor Williams and Nick Martin. “They were on the team last year, and when they develop their body and skills they have a real future,” Taylor said.
Other likely contributors include sophomore Blake Harper, junior exchange student Toshiki Yamamoto and senior Gordon Taylor.
The 50 and 100 freestyle events are where the majority of the newcomers will have an opportunity to make their mark, Taylor said.
The team opens the season Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Central Kitsap. The Spartans host Bishop Blanchet three days later in the first of four straight home meets.
“We’ll have great competition in the dual-meet season,” Taylor said. “O’Dea and Seattle Prep are always stiff competition.”
Another highlight is the Kentridge Invite on Jan. 10 at the King County Aquatic Center.
The 28-team meet includes scores of individual races – all seeded by time to match swimmers of comparable ability.
“For some of our kids, it’s the only chance to be in the same pool where we have the state meet and to see their names up on the big board,” Taylor said.