The Spartans’ Margaret Hayes swims during practice earlier this week at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

The Spartans’ Margaret Hayes swims during practice earlier this week at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Freshman leads state-bound Spartan swimmers

The Bainbridge Spartans girls swimming & diving team is heading to state with an ironman aboard — possibly the youngest ever for the Spartan swim team.

Ninth-grader Margaret Hayes has earned ironman status going into the Washington State 3A Swimming & Diving Championships and will compete in multiple events for Bainbridge, and the freshman phenom should help the Spartans make repeated trips to the winners’ platform.

The achievement is something special for a freshman, said Spartan Coach Sarah Bullock.

“Not since I’e been around have we had an ironman as a freshman. The last ironman we had was in 2011, when Shayla Archer did it, and she was a senior,” Bullock recalled.

“It’s really unusual,” she added. “The significance of doing it her freshman year — and to have the cushion … She didn’t just squeak by the events; she blew the qualifications away.”

“I’m just really excited to compete,” Hayes said. “I’ve been working really hard this season; I’m really hoping that it pays off.”

Hayes said she was a “little bit nervous” going into prep swimming’s biggest event.

“I’ve been watching the girls compete at State since I was in the sixth grade, and so I’ve been looking forward to this for a really long time,” she said. “I’m just trying to keep my nerves under wraps.”

“I’m just going to go into it and try my hardest,” Hayes said.

The Spartans placed fifth at the Sea-King District 2 Championships last week, and hope to do as good or better at the state championships this weekend in Federal Way.

And they’ll again square off against some of the same swimmers that tested them at Districts in Newport.

“Districts are really like our mini-state meet, because the top teams are always in our district, anyway,” the Spartan coach said.

“We’re hoping to finish top five; we’d love to go even higher than that — and we could, based on our relay teams and how well our individuals do. A lot of them are seeded way up there,” Bullock said.

Fifteen Spartans are making the trip to State: Hayes (200-year individual medley, 100-yard butterfly); senior Hannah Tonsmann (200-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle); junior Xaveria Rodriguez (50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle); sophomore Amelia Kimball (200-yard IM); junior Moorea Eldon-Everts (100-yard butterfly); freshman Siena Levan (100-yard butterfly); sophomore Naomi Howard (100-yard backstroke); senior Jackie Hellmers (diving); freshman Bryn Tiernan (diving); senior Hannah Lee and sophomore Zoey Ragan (relay swimmers); and freshman Eden Michael, junior Zeya Korytko, sophomore Claire Camacho and freshman Lucy King (alternate relay swimmers).

The Spartans are hoping that Hayes, Tonsmann and Rodriguez make it to the higher steps on the medal stand, along with the Bainbridge relay teams.

“Margaret, Hannah and Xaveria are all seeded top 10 in their events,” Bullock noted.

“It doesn’t take much to swing points at the state level, especially with relays, because they are double points,” she added. “Our 200 free relay is seeded second, so if we get them to win, that’s a huge championship right there,” the coach said.

“We’re feeling good. The kids are looking super, super strong now. They are a little bit rested; we didn’t rest them very well going into districts, we were keeping a long-term eye on state, versus districts.

“They are looking pretty peppy to me,” Bullock said.

The state meet begins with preliminary races Friday at the King County Aquatic Center, with finals on Saturday.

The Spartans are hoping to see some faster races than Districts.

“We usually see a big bounce at state, just really great reductions in time,” Bullock said. “They love the pool. They love the atmosphere. These girls all love to race; when they get into that heightened atmosphere, they go a little crazy.”

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