Sports

2005 Preview: Swim teams look to light up the lanes

New Central Kitsap girls swim coach Jak Ayres knows a thing or two about the sport he helped pioneer in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And although it’s been a while since he’s been in the teaching/coaching realm, Ayres is ready to make his return.

Ayres, who coached both boys and girls swimming at North Thurston High School from 1969 to 1975, claimed top 2A honors with the team in 1975. And although he’s been gone for a while, he’s ready to help CK’s girls get to the next level.

“I’m looking forward to coaching again and getting my teams excited about swimming fast while finding joy in what they are doing,” Ayres said. “ We have a great group of hard working girls.”

Ayers even coaxed Patti Matthew, the boys swim coach and recently-resigned girls swim coach, to rejoin the squad for the season.

“Although I have been officially hired as head coach, I somehow convinced Patti to come out of retirement and co-coach with me,” Ayres said. “We have a great group of swimmers and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Among that group is a strong returning nucleus of Meghann Kennedy, Kelsey Campbell and Kim Smith, all of whom qualified for state last season on CK’s relay squads. Kennedy also qualified in the breaststroke.

In terms of experience, Ayres said the team will be mixed but most have some background.

“We have nearly equal numbers from each grade 9-12, with a majority of swimmers with some experience,” he said.

But CK isn’t the only area school ready to hit the water.

OLYMPIC

Paul Henderson, coach at Olympic, said he too is excited for the start of the new season. And with good reason.

With a new assistant in Sarah Hayes and returners including Kelly Fitzgerald (Oly’s lone state participant) and captains Ashley Avery, Gradee Freeman and Heather Nelson, Oly too is looking to make some serious strides.

“It’s a good group,” Henderson said of his team. “They’re a bunch of nice girls too. When we’re on the bus, I’m not worrying about craziness.”

As for his returning core, Henderson said he’s excited to see them back in competition.

“Kelly Fitzgerald is back, she’s doing great,” he said. “We have four other district swimmers back and a couple new ones that are pretty promising.”

Those key newcomers include Tatiana Zappardino and Tanzy Caulkins, both of whom Henderson hopes will contribute right away.

“I have a lot of new ones,” Henderson said, adding that more than 30 girls turned out

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