What South Kitsap’s swimmers lack in experience, they make up for in potential.
And coach Cliff Rousell hopes that will translate to points in the water.
“We’ve got a few vets that have come back and have shown that they really want to race,” said Rousell, who is in his fourth year with the Wolves.
Anchoring the group of (number) is the 400-yard freestyle relay team, comprised of junior Zoe DeSmet, senior Heidi Edgecomb, junior Aubrey Lash and senior Jamie Weaver. The quartet has already earned a berth to the Narrows League meet.
Additionally, DeSmet has qualified for districts in the 200 freestyle, and is close on her 500 freestyle. On Sept. 19 against Gig Harbor, she finished the 200 in 2 minutes, 8.66 seconds and was timed at 5:57.89 in the 500.
While DeSmet is the only swimmer so far to qualify for the post-season, Rousell isn’t counting the others out.
Lash has already made leagues in the 200 and 500, and “there’s no question as the season (progresses) … she’s going to pop some better scores.”
Co-captains Weaver and Edgecomb, have a league cut in the 100 freestyle and a strong butterfly and sprint, respectively.
“There are others that are possible,” Rousell said. “I’m not going to name names because I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on them, but there’s without a doubt in my mind that we have district-caliber athletes in the mix.
“It’s pretty much up to them how much they want to work to get it.”
Among the freshmen Rousell speaks highly of are Kylie Dodge and Megan Friemann in the freestyle and backstroke; and Kaitlan Muzingo in the 100 breaststroke. The latter clocked a surprising 1 minute, 35 seconds against Gig Harbor, one of the fastest times on the team.
While the Wolves have six divers this season, none are at the varsity level yet. In fact, the group is just working on amassing dives. But Rousell believes that will change in the coming weeks.
“You really have to be fearless on the spring board to try something where your mind says, ‘Just don’t do it’,” he said. “You’ve got to have a little bit of a wild side to you.
“These are good young ladies that are overcoming their fears.”
Rousell praised the team’s chemistry, calling it among the “most cohesive” he has seen in his time coaching at South Kitsap.
And while the underclassman heavy team is fairly inexperienced, the work ahead doesn’t faze him. Tops on his list is conditioning – most of the swimmers started the season out of shape.
“We hope they enjoy the season well enough that they’ll want to come back in shape,” he said. “Without a doubt, we’ll be stronger next year.”
That doesn’t mean that the Wolves don’t have a shot at the state meet, though.
“There’s definitely potential,” Rousell said. “Do we have automatic state-qualifying times capable? I’d say probably not right now, but we’ll see how things go.
“It’s so early in the season it’s hard to tell right now.”
One thing benefiting the Wolves is its newly renovated pool, which was closed in August. The team practiced at Olympic High School and the Parkwood Community Center. In addition to reskinning the tub with a thermoplastic layer, Rousell said it is more aesthetically pleasing.
“Back when they made the changes to these fluorescent lighting fixtures, I changed the name from SK Pool to the Grotto,” he said. “I’m going to have to come up with a new nickname. It’s definitely lighter and brighter.”