One State returner for North Kitsap’s swim team

POULSBO — Michael Gilman was one of three swimmers on the North Kitsap High School 200-yard freestyle relay team preparing to go to State last season.

If it hadn’t been for some bad Thai food, he would have made it.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel so good,’” Gilman said of his night before the competition, after dinner with his parents.

After what was apparently food poisoning, Gilman had to make the call to coach Greg Braun. He couldn’t compete. Instead, Kellin Doyle replaced Gilman, who competed with Benjamin Breakey, Daniel Horcajo and Benjamin Machen swam the 200-yard freestyle relay, placing 14th with a time of 1 minute 43.21 seconds. The relay team seeded into State with a time of 1:39.49.

Machen is the only swimmer from the 2010-11 State relay team that returned for the 2011-12 season.

All is not lost, however. Gilman, and swimmers such as Ian Christen — who took fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and  100-yard backstroke — understand what it takes to get to State. Gilman said he feels more focused this time around.

Last season, Gilman knew he was among the faster swimmers on the team, but didn’t quiet understand why. After becoming lifeguard certified, he began watching other swimmers and analyzing how they swim. He now understands what it takes to swim faster and has begun working on technique. For example, he was swimming freestyle by paddling thumb first, instead of cupping his hands.

Machen believes the 200-yard freestyle team is set up for success again this season. Though the relay team does not have all the swimmers as last season, with two graduating and one attending another school, new swimmers should take their place.

Overall, the team has power and endurance, Machen said. Success now comes down to individual technique — last season, the team had trouble with efficient turns.

“I’m really, really excited about [the season],” Machen said. “We have a lot of first-year swimmers, but, I mean, I think we can do great.”

North Kitsap boys were scheduled for their first meet of the season against Sequim at home Thursday.


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