CK, Oly collide in the water

While the Battle of Bucklin Hill always gets the biggest draw on the football field, the Olympic Aquatic Center at Olympic High School was nearly packed Thursday for the battle’s aquatic installment.

But unlike many high school sports rivalries, this one is about fun for Oly and Central Kitsap.

“It’s always fun swimming at CK,” Oly coach Paul Henderson said. “There’s lots of comradery. It’s always fun.”

CK girls swimming co-coach Patti Matthew agreed.

“Paul and I were talking about it,” Matthew said. “The girls are so relaxed when they swim against each other. It’s one of those things where they’ve been friends way back. We all like this meet.”

As a result, there were no hanging heads after CK took the win, 95-77. Both teams got some strong times out of their swimmers, largely in the form of novices making large time drops.

“It was a really good meet,” Henderson said. “A lot of folks that are new swimmers had huge time drops. From my most novice swimmer to Heather Nelson in the 100 fly, that was probably her best swim ever, everyone had really good swims.”

Kelsey Campbell had a strong day for CK, winning the 200-meter freestyle and the 100 free. She was also part of CK’s winning 200 free and 400 free relay squads, along with teammates Kim Smith, Ana Broere and Meghann Kennedy. Broere also took the 50 free.

“We had some great swims across the board,” CK co-coach Jak Ayers said. “Seeing that sprint relay get together, that was great.”

Oly was also strong in several events, with Monica Montgomery, Ashley Avery, Kelly Fitzgerald and Tanzy Caulkins winning the 200 medley relay. Fitzgerald added a 200 IM and 100 breast win to her day, while Nelson has a career day in the 100 fly.

“Kelly was there a little bit,” Henderson said. “I think she felt a little bit off. Heather was at her best. She had more than she knew she had in her.”

With the season quickly heading toward districts, Henderson said his focus has shifted accordingly.

“We’re just really focusing on events and getting the team ready for districts,” he said. “We’ll see if we can’t get some of our new swimmers in districts. It’s just keeping them pumped and keeping them motivated.”

For CK, Ayers said they’re still taking things one day at a time.

“Each week has it’s own step. Next week is the next step,” Ayers said. “Basically, we’re putting these girls together, getting them pumped up. We’re getting close.”

With Ayers and Matthew working together for the first time, both said the transition has been nearly seamless for the girls.

“I was worried there would be some confusion there,” Ayers said. “Our styles are different. But it’s working really well.”

“We’re really different but we’re really similar in the end, in the way we get there and the way it is,” Matthew added. “We get along really well.”

Also, both schools were simply happy to be back in their home waters after weeks of renovations had them sharing pools at different schools.

“It took a week or so after getting back into our own pool to coalesce,” Ayers said. “The girls are beginning to come together as a team.”

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