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Unstoppable Aban tops the record books at North
POULSBO — North Kitsap High sophomore Bethany Aban is not built like a swimmer. And that’s what makes her accomplishments in the pool all the more impressive.
The 5-foot-3 sophomore has already broken three school records this season, and qualified for the state competition in two events. She has also qualified to compete in six out of eight individual events in the West Central District III tournament, and placed first in every event she has swum this year.
“She works harder than anybody else in the pool,” North Kitsap girls swimming Head Coach Greg Braun said of Aban. “She’s very self-motivated, and she has the mental toughness to keep pushing herself.”
Over the next two weeks, Aban hopes to fill out the rest of her district tournament card by qualifying for the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
“The only reason she hasn’t qualified in the other two (events) is that she hasn’t swum them yet,” Braun said.
Aban’s toughness and determination are visible in the young swimmer’s numerous accolades. She has broken North Kitsap’s 100-yard breaststroke record four times in her two years at the school. The previous record, set by Terry Gaines, was 1 minute, 15.9 seconds and stood untouched for 29 years. After thrice besting that time last year, the 15-year-old Aban raised the bar yet again this season, putting in a time of 1:11.51 during the first meet of the season, Sept. 10, and qualifying for state in the event. Aban hopes to improve on the 12th-place finish she took in the breaststroke at state last year, and is currently ranked fourth in the event.
“I’m looking forward to probably winning first at state this year,” she said.
In the second meet of the season, Aban qualified for state in the 100-yard backstroke, and broke a year-old school record, with a time of 1:04.77. She proceeded to break that record the following week, coming in at 1:03.61.
Aban also hopes to qualify for state in the 100-yard butterfly. During this season’s first meet, she set a school record in the event, with a time of 1:03.61. If she can cut that time down by 0.8 seconds, she will go on to state.
With two meets left in the regular season, Braun believes his star swimmer will meet her goals for the district and state tournaments.
“She’s just so far ahead of the field,” Braun said. “Bethany doesn’t have to brag. She just goes out and swims.”
For now, Aban is working on tweaking her technique to shave fractions of seconds, which in this sport can mean the difference between a state championship and a run-of-the-mill outing. The biggest boost in her quickness has come from lengthening her kick, or the distance she travels underwater after springing off the wall. When she relies more on that push, and less on the pull of her arms, Aban said she swims faster.
“I do think about my strengths,” she said. “I use my kick, because it’s one of my strong points.”
Looking ahead, Braun expects even bigger things from Aban.
“I know she’d like to take every single record off that board,” Braun said, pointing to the list of swimming records that hangs on the NK pool’s south wall. “I think by the time she’s a senior, she will. Every single one of those will read, ‘Bethany Aban.’”
Aban is a little more humble than her coach, but remains confident in her abilities.
“I could probably get most of them down, but I’m not sure about the distance events,” she said. “I’m mostly a sprinter, so those distance events are killer.”