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Swim preview: South Kitsap hopes for lift from youth wave
What they lack in age, they make up for in spirit.
South Kitsap’s girls swim team has a wave of underclassmen this season, but coach Cliff Rousell does not see that as being an impediment.
“I think we’ll be competitive,” he said of his group of 46 swimmers and divers, which includes eight freshmen. “We’ve got a lot of underclassmen, but there are a lot of strengths, a lot of spirit and a lot of great attitudes.
“These first two weeks of workouts have shown me that we’re ahead of last year.”
Rousell said that graduation “hit us good” — the Wolves lost state swimmers Hannah Straavaldson, Ashlee Becker, Angela Pearson and Kelsey Bagley. But Nicole Hinely, who had South’s best finish at the 4A state meet in November, when she placed ninth in the 200-yard freestyle, returns as a senior — and a team captain.
“Relay-wise, we lost two of our members, but we got new girls this year and we have veterans moving up and getting faster,” Hinely said. “We’re replacing them for sure.
“We have a lot of returners in different strokes coming back that are bettering their technique.”
Other notable swimmers include juniors Paige Pearsall, who does sprints and the 100-yard butterfly, Madison Kehl, who Rousell calls “our distance ace,” and Svea Van Parys and senior Johanna Willoughby, who compete in the backstroke.
“I think we have a pretty strong lineup,” Hinely said. “It’s just trying to figure out where to put people. It’s early in the season, so we need to figure out peoples strong points.”
As for her own final season, Hinely wants to “make it good” and officially qualify in the top eight of the 100 butterfly at state.
“I would like to break the school record with my 200 free,” she added, noting that she is about a half-second off from the record set in 1988.
Hinely’s co-captain, senior Jessica Carter, was a state alternate last year in the relays, and swims the 50 and 200 freestyle.
“I’m trying to make cuts for districts and I definitely have improved from last year,” she said.
Rousell said he appreciates his captains’ enthusiasm.
“They’ve shown initiative in wanting to be involved in making lineups for our competitions,” he said. “I think that says a lot. They’re well respected and liked by their teammates.”
Rousell said that the diving team has some strength returning and he has been especially impressed by senior Hannah Luer, who had a “decent season” last year and is expected to be even better this fall.
South’s swimmers just returned to their home pool on Tuesday, which Rousell said presented some challenges — especially for the divers. Olympic High School only has one board. The Wolves’ pool was closed for maintenance.
“We’re catching the bus at 6:45 a.m. to get 90 minutes of water time at Olympic,” he said. “The ladies are making the most of it. The attendance has been good and we have got right down to business.”
Sept. 20 at Stadium
Sept. 22 Olympia
Sept. 29 at Mount Tahoma
Oct. 6 Shelton
Oct. 8 South Sound Relays
Oct. 13 at Central Kitsap
• All meets are scheduled for 3 p.m. except for the South Sound Relays, which begin at 1 p.m.
• Coach: Cliff Rousell, second season.
• Key returners: Jessica Carter, 50 and 100 freestyle, sr.; Nicole Hinely, 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, sr.; Madison Kehl, 200 individual medley, jr.; Hannah Luer, diving, sr.; Paige Pearsall, 200 freestyle, jr.; Svea Van Parys, 200 freestyle, jr.; Hannah Waterman, diving, jr.
• Key departures: Kelsey Bagley, 50 and 100 freestyle, graduated; Ashlee Becker, 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, graduated; Angela Pearson, 200 and 500 freestyle, graduated; Johanna Steinbrink, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, graduated; Hannah Straavaldson, 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, graduated; Holly Vertefeuille, diving, graduated.
• Top newcomers: None.