Everybody in the pool

For the casual observer walking into the Olympic Aquatic Center last week, it appeared that all of the girls swim teams from Central Kitsap, Olympic and Klahowya were all in there simultaneously swimming lap after lap as they prepared for the upcoming season.

But looking around, there was only one CK’s coaching staff there with coach Patti Matthew watching over 43 swimmers.

“This is the most I’ve had since 1991,” said Matthew, the long-time Cougar coach.

And while big numbers make it easy to fill a roster, there are drawbacks.

“The last time I had a group this big I didn’t get to know some of the kids,” she said, noting her daughter Erin, a former CK standout who now swims for Seattle University, is helping out before she heads off to school. “So I’m hoping that doesn’t happen this year.”

The Lady Cougars bring a good balance of state-experienced swimmers, swim club experience and novices.

“There’s only 14 girls that don’t have competitive swimming experience,” Matthew said. With nine freshmen, 16 sophomores and 13 juniors, there’s plenty of time to gain experience to go with the five seniors. “We’re real bottom-heavy so that’s wonderful.”

Back from last year’s ninth-place in state 400 free relay team are Kelsey Campbell, April Swaine, Kristi Waterbury and Meghann Kennedy who are excited about the prospects of returning to Federal Way. Swaine, a familiar sight at the King County Aquatic Center come November, says her biggest challenge is more than just in the water where she hopes to qualify for state in the 100 and 200 free races.

“My goal is to make it through the season and keep up with my academics,” Swaine, a senior who’s taking four Advanced Placement classes this fall. “Keeping the right balance will be hard.”

The Lady Cougs start their season at OAC against an up-and-coming Bremerton team on Thursday.

At a later practice there weren’t as many Lady Trojans in the water, but there was enough to keep sixth-year coach Paul Henderson happy with what this season might have in store.

“Twenty-five is a great number,” Henderson said of his team’s roster. “And I’ve got four or five butterfliers (always a difficult event for younger swimmers), so I don’t have to worry about that.”

The Oly girls are a young, inexperienced team with 18 novices in the pool.

Yet, one of the youngest members of the team, freshman Kelly Fitzgerald, already has Henderson thinking of the state Class 4A meet.

“I think she’ll be good at everything,” he gushed over the club-experienced swimmer. “I already know she can make it to state in the breaststroke because she’s done the qualifying time (see chart left) at the club level. She’ll also be good in the 200 individual medley.”

If Henderson does make the cut for state, it’ll be the first time a Lady Trojan has gone that far in at least six years.

“I’ve never had a girl qualify for state,” Henderson said. “And it’ll be great to see if we can get a relay team in as well.”

The Lady Trojans start their season on Thursday with a road meet at Port Angeles.

At an even later practice, Klahowya coach Carol Tyree-Dewell had 14 swimmers taking their laps which is about the average turnout over the past few years.

And there’s a pair of club-experienced freshmen in Ahulani Auwae and Elexis Metzzger that has Tyree-Dewell excited about the Lady Eagles’ future,

Add in supporting members Brittney Hiller, a junior, and team captain Miranda Thaemert, a senior, plus junior Lindsay Myhre (who learned flawless technique in Singapore but has never swam competitively), and Tyree-Dewell says the team could be competitive in the Nisqually League against Port Townsend and Eatonville (who they swim against on Tuesday at OAC).

“We’ll see how it goes,” the Eagles’ coach said.

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