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SWIMMING PREVIEW | Newcomers making a splash for SK swim
Some coaches see youth as an obstacle.
Cliff Rousell isn't one of them.
Rousell said that of the 40 swimmers who turned out at the beginning of the season, seven are freshmen — and he definitely sees promise among the septet, from which six have competition experience.
"It's awesome," said Rousell, who is in his fourth year with the Wolves. “I’ve got three more years with them after this year.
“It’s going to be high tide and I’m the clam.”
Rousell, who previously coached club swimming, said he had three of the freshmen in his age-group program.
“It’s kind of coming full circle for me,” he said. “It’s a treat not only to have some fresh horses in the stable, but it’s even better when you’re familiar with the horses that are just arriving.”
Among those "horses" is Dylan Macabitas, who Rousell anticipates qualifying for districts in every event he swims.
“He’s one of those kids that’s very well versed in all of the strokes,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a shot at state this year.”
Also making an early impression are sprinter Matthew Martin, who has “a tremendous kick and a good stroke”; Simon Martin, who can swim all four stokes and has “tremendous endurance”; and David Royce, who is “strong in all of his skills.”
That doesn’t mean that it's all about the underclassmen, though.
Among the returners are the team's senior captains, Tristan Martin, a districts swimmer who specializes in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke and is a “key component” on the relays; and Jake Rumpke, who swam at leagues in the breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
Others of note are sophomore Nils Johnson, who Rousell calls "our distance man" and senior sprinter Chris Carter, who is “looking real sharp in the water.”
Rousell said this year's squad benefits from larger membership and good leadership by its captains.
"The team chemistry overall is much stronger this year," he said.
He also sees added depth on a team that sent just one swimmer to the 2013 state meet.
“What we lost on front-end speed with Damien (DeRego's) graduation,” he said, “I think we’re picking up with what we’re seeing in some of our returners."
On the diving side, junior Justin Hart, a transfer from California, has already accomplished a forward 1 1/2, and Rousell said he has the potential to compete at the state meet.
“He obviously has some strong bases,” he said.
Thursday at Curtis
Jan. 7 Olympia (at Evergreen State)
Jan.16 Central Kitsap
Jan. 18 At South Sound Relays
Jan. 21 Bremerton
Coach: Cliff Rousell, fourth season
Key returners: Chris Carter, sr.; Nils Johnson, so.; Tristan Martin, sr.; Andy Straavaldson, jr.; Wilson Sydenstricker, so.
Key newcomers: Mitchell Chase, fr.; Dylan Macabitas, fr.; Matthew Martin, fr.; Simon Martin, fr.; Andrew Mehs, fr.; David Royce, fr.
Key departure: Damien DeRego, graduated.