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A ‘serendipitous’ swim season for North Kitsap
POULSBO — It was a girl’s swim season that almost wasn’t.
Three days after the Vikings hit the pool for practice, the school board voted to keep the pool open, granting the Vikings a competitive swim season. The Vikings took their season, and with it, accomplished feats they hadn’t done in years.
Instead of just sending one athlete and a coach to state, for the first time in more than 20 years, the Vikings are sending two relays and two individuals.
They’re sending a team.
“When you have a whole team you can actually have a section, and find a spot in the bleachers and say ‘Here is the Vikings team.’ They can pump each other up. It’s huge to have a team,” said head coach Greg Braun. “This is almost the season that never was and then it turns out to be one of, if not the most, successful season we’ve had in the history of NK swimming.”
This weekend at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way senior Stephanie Longmate will compete in the 200- and 500-freestyles, freshman Bethany Aban competes in the 100-breaststroke and 200-individual melody, and Longmate, Aban and seniors Ingrid Reeves and Andrea Coyle will compete in the 200- and 400-free relays.
It’s been Ingrid Reeve’s dream to “somehow go to state” ever since she was a freshman.
She even postponed surgery on her upper right rib and some muscles so she could swim and hopefully qualify for state as a senior.
“It means my dream is coming true,” said a smiling Ingrid Reeves as she sat by the pool Wednesday afternoon. “It means what I’ve worked hard for has paid off.”
Just like the season that came to fruition, a serendipitous course of events propelled the relays to a state berth.
Heading into the divisional meet Nov. 7 and 8, the Vikings 200-free relay team was seeded 10th. Only the top seven advance to state.
Braun said the best time the girls had swam was a “1:54 something.” A few days before the meet they swam a 1:51 so he knew they could go faster. On Friday night Nov. 7, Ingrid Reeves and Coyle swam their best legs of the season and Aban and Longmate carried them through.
Braun and assistant coach Noreen Reeves were clocking the girls individual legs and couldn’t believe the times they were writing down.
“It was like pinch me, pinch me, what’s the deal,” Braun recalled.
When the girls touched the wall at the end and the time was displayed, 1:48.65, Noreen Reeves began crying and shaking and Braun was trance-like reciting, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”
The girls finished the race in fifth, they were headed to state.
“I was bawling,” Ingrid Reeves recalled. “We hit the wall and all of a sudden my mom looked at me with this teary-eyed face and Braun was jumping up and down. We made it.”
Noreen Reeves swears Braun jumped as high as her shoulder.
Coyle, who’s never swam competitively until this year, said she it was crazy and she’s just amazed at all the progress.
The Vikings 200-relay time is also the second fastest in school history, less than a second shy of the school record, 1:48.07.
Braun believes the girls can break the school record at state.
The girls carried their 200-relay momentum onto the 400-relay, rising from a seventh seed to finish fourth overall.
Ingrid Reeves and Coyle swam their best legs of the season, Ingrid Reeves coming from behind to pull ahead by a body length, and Aban and Longmate worked their magic.
After two days of competition, the girls broke the 400-free relay school record for the fourth time this year, swimming it in 4:00.67, dropping their previous best time by more than two seconds in the course of two days.
“They’d broken the record again, I mean there were no words, a miracle has occurred. Look at what NK has done,” gasped Noreen Reeves. “This is our dream team. It’s what Greg and I have dreamed about all these years, to have a group of four girls who can work together and accomplish what they did.”
Braun anticipates the girls breaking the school record again at state and swimming the race in less than four minutes. For state, Longmate is seeded 16th in the 200 and 12th in the 500, Aban is 21st for the 200-IM and 12th for the breaststroke, the 200-relay is 22nd and the 400-relay is seeded 24th.
They’re not in the top 10, but they’re going.
“We’re there for crying out loud,” Braun said. “It’s the state meet. It’s the coolest pool on the face of the earth for these kids. This is a big deal.”
At the district championship meet, Kathryn Surber and Stephanie Longmate were awarded District Scholar Athlete awards for seniors with a grade point higher than 3.75, and All-League honors will be awarded to Aban, 200-IM, 100-breaststroke and 200- and 400-relay; Coyle, 200- and 400-relay; Longmate, 200- and 500-free and 200- and 400-relay; and Ingrid Reeves, 200- and 400-relay.