Members of the Spartans’ swim team train during a recent session at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Members of the Spartans’ swim team train during a recent session at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Spartans set to defend their state title – again | WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW

They say the third time’s a charm.

For the Bainbridge Spartan boy’s swimming & diving team, though, a third time would be monumental.

Ginormous, even.

The Spartans kick off the swim season with a home meet against O’Dea High Friday, Nov. 30 at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center.

And hard as it may be to ignore, the Spartans will be defending their 3A Washington state championship title again this year after back-to-back wins — with a grand chance at winning an unprecedented third title.

The Spartan roster is thick with state-seasoned veterans, and the team will be led by senior captains Sam Chapman, Kevin Houseman and Makai Ingalls.

Houseman was the state 3A champ last year in the 100-yard breaststroke.

William Waite, also a senior and the defending state champion in the 200-yard individual medley, is returning to swim for the Spartans, as well.

Other competitors from last year’s state team include 100-yard freestyle champion Jude Wenker (junior), Carter Hall (senior), Aidan Wagner (senior), Andrew Witty (junior) and state champ diver Kiernan Liberman (junior).

Spartan Head Coach Kaycee Taylor said the Spartans can win big little by little.

“It’s almost cliché. It is cliché; we’ve got to take care of the little things,” Taylor said. “If you don’t do those things, like practice the perfect turn every single time; focusing on what your starts look like; understanding that the workout that you do today is going to help you in the dual meet, that gets you ready for the end of the season.”

Even so, the coach said, another state championship for the team isn’t the Spartans’ sole goal.

“We’ve talked about a state repeat, but we haven’t made it a big focus. The captains, I think, are kind of deciding what the tone will be,” Taylor said.

“On the one hand, it’s a huge deal. The potential to be a three-time state championship team, has never happened for us. At the same time, I don’t want that to be the only thing they’re focused on — because we’ve got to take care of every single bit leading up to that.”

Doing the work to be ready for their races during the regular season, he said, will be the foundation for any post-season success.

“That’s the plan.

“Hope is not a plan,” he added. “You can’t hope to be state champions.

You’ve got to have a plan to do it.”

The Spartans have 37 athletes on the team this year, five fewer than its largest team ever. Their numbers include four, possibly five, divers — a big asset for the dual-meet season.

Newcomers to watch include freshmen Mitchell Bell and Alexander Miller.

Others new to the team include ninth-graders Peter Bang-Knudsen, Oskar Bannister, Jacques Defawe, Aidan Freitas, Eamon Greathouse, Henry Sauermann, Cameron Smit and Harrison Villella.

The team has a core of solid sophomores (John Bullock, David Burton, Ben Chapman, Ian Costin, Ian Lipton, Travis McCoy, Gabe Nathan, Luke Shields, Tyler Stewart, Brian Taylor and Guy Weibel) and durable juniors (Ben Cohen, Thomas Defaw, Maxwell Eyrich and John Williams). Seniors on the squad include Gabriele De Capitani and Clay Jablonski.

“We’re just looking like we’re reloaded with the talent we had last year,” Taylor said.

“At every grade level and every stroke and position, we’ve got somebody,” he said.

The lineup this year will change for a few of the relay teams, given the loss of Parker Bushey to graduation.

But with his deep roster, however, Taylor doesn’t appear worried.

“I’m really looking forward to the first meet so I can start playing with who is going to swim where,” he said.

Taylor said he was hoping to nail down a non-league matchup for this year’s schedule, against a top team such as Kingston or Olympic.

“Our non-leauges are probably going to be our most competitive,” he said.

“It’s not a knock to the Metro League teams we swim against, but I already know we can beat Blanchet, we can beat Roosevelt. It’s those other teams we seek out that will help forge our strength a little bit more.”

At the state meet in February, Taylor said he expects to see the Spartans’ usual rivals.

“When it comes to it, it’s going to be the same old names; it’s going to be Mercer [Island], it’s going to be Bellevue and it’s going to be Bainbridge,” he said.

Bainbridge edged Bellevue for the state title last year, with Mercer Island taking third.

And whatever success he has a coach, Taylor said, is due in large part to other coaches on Bainbridge, such as Assistant Coach Kristin Gellert, who just led the Bainbridge boys water team to a second-place finish in the state championships, and the coaches of the Bainbridge Island Swim Club.

“I get them for such a short period of time, those kids who are on BISC, they come ready,” Taylor said. “They are well prepared, well coached and it makes my job so much easier.”

“It’s the community that really helps us win that trophy,” he said.

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