Swimmer's last trip to state meet will be solo

PUYALLUP — Nicole Hinely is the lone Wolf.

The South Kitsap senior will be the school’s only representative at the 4A State Swim & Dive Championships next week in Federal Way.

Hinely, who finished fourth at Saturday’s district meet in the 100-yard butterfly, in 1:00.17, qualified for the event in the prelims and then made a splash in the finals. Next weekend, she will also swim the 200 freestyle, in which she placed seventh, in 2:00.27, at Rogers High School.

Next up is her final stint in the pool at the King County Aquatic Center.

“I’m just excited because it’s my senior year,” she said. “(My times) really haven’t been where it should be, so I’m hopeful that come state, I will have the competition — and it will be a great atmosphere — and I will get that time down sub-2.

“There’s going to be my best times then,” she said. “You can count on it.”

Hinely has been clocking a time of 1:00.1 in the 100 butterfly, which means that she is just one-hundredth away from the minute mark. Her fastest time is 58.1 seconds, which she did at state.

But the last two years, she has won the consolation final of the event, which means she could not make the podium, even though her time last year was faster than the eighth-place finisher.

South Kisap coach Cliff Rousell said he thinks Hinely is in better condition and has better technique this season than before.

“She’s just a tremendous asset and individual, any way you look at it,” he said.

Hinely is just hoping to have a tremendous finish to her high school career.

“I’m hoping to secure that top eight spot,” she said in pointing out that she has yet to get such recognition for her skill. “This is my last year, so I definitely have the motivation to get that. There’s nothing stopping me.”

After all, this is the end of the road — or more specifically, the pool — for Hinely.

She plans to attend Washington State University next year and major in nursing, but does not intend to swim unless she joins a club team.

“It’s scary that it’s coming down to two weeks left and then it’s over,” she said.

But Hinely is not scared of being the lone Wolf this weekend. She is friends with Central Kitsap’s swimmers and plans to stay close to them.

“It’s sweet and sour,” Rousell said. “I’m very happy, and there’s no question about her abilities, but the sour part, for me, is that this is it — the last time on the merry-go-round for her.”

But he definitely plans to be back next year.

“They’re hungry and want more,” he said of those whose season ended at districts. “They’re sorry that the season is coming to an end, and that’s the attitude we want to see in the water at the beginning of the season.

“We’ve got a great group of underclassmen.”

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