Sports

Swimmers are competitive in a friendly way

He may not have been the fastest swimmer, but Olympic’s Chris Shepard had some of the day’s loudest applause even after finishing in last place in the 500 freestyle race. Coach Paul Henderson said Shepard has been consistently improving in the difficult event. - Photo by Sean Lamphere
He may not have been the fastest swimmer, but Olympic’s Chris Shepard had some of the day’s loudest applause even after finishing in last place in the 500 freestyle race. Coach Paul Henderson said Shepard has been consistently improving in the difficult event.
— image credit: Photo by Sean Lamphere

Central Kitsap diver Joe Brace paced the side of the Olympic Aquatic Center pool Thursday afternoon and urged the other team’s swimmer to push harder as minutes and laps passed by in the 500 freestyle race.

On any other day, this might seem a bit odd. But this was no ordinary day. It was Central Kitsap versus Olympic, a competition beset by friendship since on non-racing days these teams are working out together and sharing the coaching resources of Maddie Heaslip and Paul Henderson.

“It’s always fun when we swim Olympic,” said Heaslip, a former assistant coach at OHS. “We’re improving with every swim and we finally have everyone eligible.”

But in the end there can be only one winning team and that honor this year went to the larger CK team 128-40.

Brace was overflowing with energy at the meet having rewritten the Central Kitsap record book for the second time in a week with a 250.85-point score in 1-meter diving.

“I feel pretty good,” Brace said. “I wasn’t as confident as I was last week, but I still tried to put everything I could into it.”

Brace, in his second stint at CK after moving back from New York, chalked up his record-setting performance to practice.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best. I want to progress as much as I can to get to that level and then go on.

“It’s still really early in the season. (Diving) coach Jeff Elvado and I are working on some big dives that will help through the rest of the season through state.”

Besides Brace, the Cougars added a whole posse to their list of district qualifiers as the OAC lived up to its reputation as a fast pool. Those making the cut were: 200 individual medley — Alex Phillips (2 minutes, 34.10 seconds), Robert Poer (2:44.33) and Mitchell Thorsen (2:45.31); 50 free — Brandon Zutz (26.28) and Jesse Arthur (24.36); 100 butterfly — Dean Schoenberg (1:11.98), Erick Vretenar (1:12.35) and Poer (1:11.02); 500 free — Phillips (6:08.14), Bret Wood-Deno (6:25.22) and Arthur (6:23.47); 100 back — Schoenberg (1:14.45) and Vretenar (1:13.16); and Thorsen in the 100 breast (1:19.54).

The Trojans added a pair of district qualifiers themselves. Patrick Fitzgerald swam a 1:53.09 in the 200 freestyle and Mike VanBerkom made a qualifying time of 2:48.71 in the 200 IM.

“It’s a friendly rivalry,” Fitgerald said. “We’re making jokes with one another so it’s a lot of fun. This is a just-have-fun meet.”

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