Swimming: For North Kitsap Vikings, it’s all about improvement

The Vikings swim team couldn’t be more pleased to be back in the water and swimming their way to a successful season.  - Tara Lemm/Staff photo
The Vikings swim team couldn’t be more pleased to be back in the water and swimming their way to a successful season.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff photo

POULSBO — The Vikings girls swim team recently took a deep collective sigh of relief.

With the North Kitsap School District board of director’s decision to subsidize the North Kitsap community pool through Dec. 31 — a decision made Aug. 28, three days after the swimmers hit the pool for practice — the 29 team members learned they’d actually get to compete and finish their season.

Head Coach Greg Braun and athletes are über-stoked: They get to have a season.

“All of us girls were extremely happy when Mr. Braun told us,” said Vikings’ senior captain Ingrid Reeves. “We were all cheering and clapping. I was stoked.”

A successful U.S. Olympic swim showing led by Michael Phelps, who most of the Viking swimmers say is “hot,” has also added to the anticipation and numbers, as seven more girls than last year turned out. As a result the lanes are a little crowded at practice. Nine freshman and 15 returners help comprise the squad. The team has great depth ranging from returning state competitors to those learning to swim competitive strokes.

The Vike swimmers are also a talkative, social bunch, and spend their bus rides serenading coaches and driver to the Backstreet Boys.

“They’re self disciplined and have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm coming into a season they weren’t sure they were going to have,” Braun said. “They care a lot about each other. They support each other.”

Last year the Vikes only won one or two meets, but Braun said the girls did awesome, as every swimmer finished the season faster than where they started and a few made it all the way to state. For the Vikings success is measured in improvement, not in standings, and that will hold true for the upcoming season. It’s Braun’s focus to help them along in that journey.

“If they feel successful that builds self confidence and a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “We want to create an experience they’ll remember and if we do that then we’ve been successful.”

Yesterday, just such an experience happened. It was fashion swim Friday and each of the girls stroked laps in shirts, pants and shoes. They had fun, but they also got in a solid workout.

The girls practice Monday through Friday from 3-4:30 p.m. and “drill, drill, drill” technique, endurance and strength.

Braun said to keep an eye out for the 400-free relay team, which set the school record last year in 4 minutes and 5.43 seconds. Reeves and senior Stephanie Longmate were on last year’s record-setting relay team and will be joined this year by strong freshman swimmer Bethany Aban.

“The kids have the chance to break the 400-free relay record again,” Braun said.

He said Longmate has the potential to break school records in the 200 and 500 free, and Aban is capable of swimming a state time in the 100 backstroke or setting a school record.

The team’s season opener is a home dual against Klahowya at 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 11. They’re not worried about it, as it will serve as a time benchmark meet. But they do look forward to joining the Olympic League as a 3A school.

“In the Olympic League we have a common voice and it’s all for what’s best for the kids,” Braun said. “We’re going to be competing with great people.”

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