Sports

Swimming and showing off Buccaneer style

The Kingston High girls swim team from left to right: freshmen Nicole Avila and Kaylie Manix, junior Jessie Gates, senior Olivia Finlay, junior Karlyne Crawford and sophomore Katie Fisher. Not pictured, seniors Brittany McKenzie and Emily Kelleigh.  - Tara Lemm/Staff photo
The Kingston High girls swim team from left to right: freshmen Nicole Avila and Kaylie Manix, junior Jessie Gates, senior Olivia Finlay, junior Karlyne Crawford and sophomore Katie Fisher. Not pictured, seniors Brittany McKenzie and Emily Kelleigh.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff photo

KINGSTON — The Buccaneers girls swimming squad gets a team of its own and an opportunity to demonstrate what Kingston swimmers are made of this year.

Last year the Bucs swam on a combined team with North Kitsap, and now the eight athletes who’ve turned out will swim solely as a united Buccaneer force.

“They’re all very excited to be here and represent their school and nobody else’s,” said new head coach Celia Ozereko. “They’re really excited to have the spotlight on them and to show area schools what a team from Kingston can do. Keep an eye on them throughout the season because we expect to make some pretty significant improvements.”

Aside from a few returning swimmers, the team welcomes several fresh faces. Ozereko said a lot of the girls are fairly new to the sport and to competitive swimming. But that can be a good thing because they’re willing to learn and put in the work necessary to make improvements. Actually that’s the team’s strength, Ozereko said.

“It’s encouraging to see their willingness to make improvements and work on anything that needs to be done,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a strong season because of that.”

To reel in the team’s lack of competitive experience, Ozereko is gearing practices toward teaching the fundamentals of racing, the “down-and-dirty” correct stroke techniques and building confidence off the starting blocks. There’s no time like the present to get their training base back in shape, and confidence in racing situations will have to come with experience.

Ozereko hopes spectators pay close attention to the relays, the breaststroke and freestyle sprint races, as she said those areas are going to be very strong for the Bucs.

Being a competitive swimmer of many years herself, Ozereko knows swimming is a lifelong sport and it’s her ambition to instill a love for the sport in her athletes.

“I took away self discipline and I really hope to give the girls that and the enjoyment of a sport I’ve come to love,” she said.

Although coach and athletes are relieved and overjoyed they’ll actually get to finish the season, as the North Kitsap School District board of directors voted to subsidize the pool through the end of the year, there’s still a few unknowns. Namely, the competitive schedule and whether or not Kingston and North Kitsap will jointly attend meets and compete against opponents in double-dual style. With such a small team Kingston could have difficulties finding volunteers to host home meets. Attending joint meets could alleviate that concern as well as the strain on transportation funding.

The decision, however, is currently at the regional level.

The Bucs season opener is slated for Sept. 18 against North Kitsap, but that could also change based upon the joint competitions decision.

Regardless, Ozereko said all the Olympic League teams will present different challenges at each meet.

“It’s going to be a really exciting competitive season now that they’re able to represent their own school,” she said.

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