Diamonds in the water

Every year Dennis Anderson is a man on a mission.

The South Kitsap High School boys swimming coach has found diamonds in the rough every year from his sophomore swimming class, and this year is no exception.

His sales pitch is crucial to selling these young swimmers or divers on turning out for the high school team.

Based on what he has seen so far this season, Anderson has already begun to rave about a crop of divers he hopes can be sculpted into post-season hopefuls.

While senior swimmer Chris Smith will add diving to his resume this year, the remainder of divers — students in the sophomore swimming class two weeks ago — round out the roster of divers.

Anderson said he is pleasantly surprised by the progress of sophomores Dan Haver and Brad Devaney and junior Brandon Kingsbury on the diving board.

“They have unlimited potential,” Anderson said. “They’ve got the guts to do it. It’s just a matter of the mechanics and how to make the dive look pretty.”

On the swimming side, state hopes will hinge on the individual efforts of sophomores Greg Mercer (100- and 200-yard freestyle) and Cory Smith (100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard IM), and Chris Smith (500-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, diving).

As a freshman last year, Mercer placed 14th in the 200 freestyle and 19th in the 500 freestyle.

Then-senior Evan Edgecomb was the only other individual competitor (500-yard freestyle) at state.

Anderson said his biggest task this season is finding a swimmer to round out the relay team with the Smith brothers and Mercer.

Mercer and the Smith brothers teamed with Edgecomb to place seventh at state in the 200-yard freestyle relay last year

Replacing Edgecomb will be a tough task, but Anderson said he sees good things from returning varsity swimmers Nick Dargel and Lonnie Johnson, who qualified for districts last year.

The Wolves, which placed 17th at state last year, could finish in the top 12, Anderson said.

Right now Anderson’s concentration is on the upcoming dual meet season, which includes key matchups against perennial powers Gig Harbor, Curtis, and Bainbridge.

Looking at the schedule, Anderson said he sees his team winning anywhere between eight and 10 dual meets.

The depth won’t be there this year like last year, he said.

“The dual meets will be tougher this year,” he said. “I think we’ll have some swimmers step up and fill some of those slots. The top-end guys I have no worries. They will place first or second in their events against anybody.”

Anderson said he’d pit his top three guys against any other swimmer in the Narrows League.

“I think our top three is better than Gig Harbor’s top three but (the Tides) may have more depth this year,” he said. “But we’ve got a good group of guys and they know what it takes.”

The Wolves open the season tomorrow at Port Angeles.

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