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Benefiting from a cooperative rivalry
NORTH KITSAP — Greg Braun stood at the edge of the community pool, coaching the Viking swim team in 1996, while Laura Laubach swam laps. Now, with Laubach coaching the Kingston Buccaneers swim team, her former girls team swim coach has become her opponent.
The similarities between the coaches runs deeper than sharing a practice space at the North Kitsap Community Pool.
We’ve been called the bizarro twins,” Braun said. “We both went to (Whitman) College and majored in geology and now we’re both coaching swim in the same pool.”
While they are in direct competition, it’s a friendly rivalry, Braun said.
As a new coach, Laubach has learned a lot from Braun’s coaching and said she is thankful she can ask questions if they arise.
In a trend which spread throughout Kingston High School sports teams this year, twice as many girls tried out for the swim team compared to last year, building the team roster to 23 girls. Some coaches have cringed at the number of students trying out for sports, but Laubach is thankful.
We couldn’t even fill our events last year,” Laura said. “We lost a lot of points that kept us from advancing.”
Nearly half of the Bucs team has experience competing in swim meets after swimming for the Vikings in the past, while the other half of them are new to the sport. With a group of new competitors, Laubach focused a lot of the team’s training on fundamentals, she said.
“Swimming competitively involves such a steep learning curve,” Braun said. “A lot of people say ‘Oh, I know how to swim,’ but what you learn is how efficient you need to be to compete and how technical the sport is.”
It’s difficult for Laubach to know how well the Bucs team will do this season, but Braun said the Vikings show promise and he expects to see his more experienced swimmers putting new records up, Braun said.
Returning swimmers, including Bethany Aban who helped bring the team to state last year, seek to push the team and themselves this season. Aban has gone to state twice swimming for the Vikings and has added her name to the records board twice at the community pool.
“This batch of swimmers is talented,” Aban said. “Swimmers like Lindsey Little will make a big difference for us.”
Aban began swimming when she was 10 years old and competing at the age of 12. The first time she swam for the Vikings she beat the record for breast stroke by three seconds at the pool, which had held since 1979. Aban then broke her own school record at North multiple times over the course of the 2009 season.
“Swimming is really just the highlight of my life,” Aban said.
With a bye week to start out the season, both teams were able to train 10 days longer than usual, which helped with the new swimmers. The teams have one element of competition going against them though: no diving team.
Because of a small budget, the district cannot afford to hire a diving coach, which means the Vikings and Bucs automatically forfeit points in each meet. The schools with diving teams in their league — Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Sequim — gain 13 points against those that don’t.
The boys team went to the state championships last year and lost by only a few points,” Braun said. “We would have had it if we had a diving team.”
Nevertheless, with the season underway, the Vikings and Bucs will prepare to face each other for their second meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21.
It will always be fun,” Braun said. “But I have a feeling within the next few years our rivalry will grow.”