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Trading workout kicks
Kicking has been part of Taylor Rousell’s workout routine for as long as he can remember.
But for the South Kitsap senior, it began on the mats, where he practiced karate, instead of in the water.
Rousell might have been content with it staying that way. But by the time he was seven, his older sister, Madison, was working out with the Puget Sound Swim Club. He saw the success his older sister, who won two state championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle for the Wolves from 2004-06, and quickly traded sparring for speed.
“I definitely got into the sport through my sister,” said Rousell, whose father, Cliff, is a swim official and a volunteer coach at South. “I would go to her practices and swim meets. I thought they looked really fun.”
Similar to his sister, Rousell also specializes in sprint events. In February, he placed fourth in the 50 freestyle, in 21.71 seconds, at the Class 4A state swim and dive championships in Federal Way. Garren Riechel of Snohomish won the event in 21.14 and earned an automatic All-American time.
Riechel, who recently made a verbal commitment to swim at Stanford, is the only returning placer in that event who finished ahead of Rousell — and he is ready to compete for a state championship.
“I know I’ve got some really tough competition,” Rousell said. “I’m not saying I will (win it), but it’s a goal.”
He describes the 50 as a love-hate relationship. He enjoys the competitiveness that the short distance brings out, but does not enjoy that success in the event comes through almost perfectionist precision.
After all, he acknowledges that an ideal evening for him after four hours of swim practice between the high school and Puget Sound Swim Club is relaxing on his Futon.
“I just can’t get enough down time,” Rousell said. “I just love sitting there and watching TV. I eat a lot, too.”
The urge to rest ends when he gets to arrive at school in the morning, though. Rousell, who is looking to swim at Mesa State College in Colorado, somewhere in the Midwest or University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said he maintains a 3.5 grade-point average through a course load that includes calculus. Growing up around the growth of the Internet, he said he long has been fascinated by technology and hopes to major in computer science when he heads to college in fall.
“I would love to be part of the expanding frontier of technology,” said Rousell, who has taken computer-related classes. “I am excited to be a part of that.”
His interest in numbers does not end when he leaves the classroom. Every day, Rousell sees the chart that features the school records in every event for boys and girls inside the pool.
“Seeing my name up there five or six times would be pretty amazing,” he said.
That might seem ambitious, but Rousell already has his name on the board in a few events. He swam the final leg on South’s 400-freestyle relay team, which finished fifth at state, in 3:16.89. That broke the school record (3:17.68) set in 1986.
Rousell also swam the final leg of the 200-medley relay that finished fifth at state, in 1:40.52. The Wolves broke the school record (1:41.43) that was set at districts. Before that, South’s best time was 1:42.52, in 1987.
While his sister was dominant in the 100 — she still competes in that event and the 50 freestyle as a junior at UNLV — he said that event is more difficult for him because “I don’t uphold the pace.”
That has Rousell thinking about deviating from tradition. He finished the 100 butterfly in 53.89 seconds Dec. 10 against Central Kitsap, which is about two seconds better than his previous best.
“A lot of people pointed out to me that I’m only four-tenths off the school record,” he said. “I’m actually debating whether to do my 100 free or 100 fly.”
Unlike when he chose his kicking preference, Rousell knows he will not have much time to make a decision.
“It’s going by quick,” he said.
Just like a swift kick.