OLYMPIA — Aberdeen won the team title, but South Sound competitors started and finished the District IV 2A girls swim championships with a bang Saturday at The Evergreen State College pool.
First, in the morning, Tumwater diver Annie Senior was a surprise winner and, in the meet’s final event, Capital’s 400- free relay team, despite knowing that the district team title was out of reach, turned in its most explosive performance of the season.
The Cougars, helped by sophomore Jada Pearson, crushed their previous season’s best and their opposition Saturday with a state-qualifying time of 3:49.79, nearly 11 seconds better than their previous best in the event this season and 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Aberdeen.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Capital coach Burke Anderson, whose team finished third overall with 327 points behind Aberdeen’s winning 386. “Our team was on fire today, the girls just fed off each other’s energy.”
Pearson shared meet high- point honors with W.F. West’s Gabrielle Godlewski with a perfect 40 in her four events
Capital’s concluding relay performance – Jenessa Schulte, Madeline Hoffman and Jessica Eidenmuller joined Pearson – brought deafening noise from an enthusiastic crowd in the jammed Evergreen pool, which serves as the Cougars’ regular-season home.
“We’ll be competitive at state (next week at the King County Aquatic Center),” said Anderson. “But this was the big party right here. Hopefully, we’ll carry the energy we showed today over into state.”
Pearson was confident going into the meet, but surprised herself just a bit.
“I wanted to swim state times, I wanted to beat my times from prelims,” she said. “But I didn’t necessarily think I was going to win all my events and the relays. My goal is to keep improving my times at state.”
Pearson claimed both sprints, taking the 50-yard freestyle in a state-qualifying time of 25.81, then came back to take the 100 free by a decisive three seconds in another state time, 57.11. In addition to the 400-free relay, she swam a leg on Capital’s victorious 200-free relay team which featured the same three teammates who won the 400.
Godlewski matched Pearson’s point total by excelling in the longer distances. She took the 200 free in 2:01.49 over Schulte, who also swam a state time for Capital with a 2:05.34, then led a Cougars sweep of the 500 free with a state time of 5:24.07. Teammate Keesha Matz was second in another state time, 5:43.92. Lindsey Giffey advances as the third-place finisher.
Tumwater’s Senior, a junior, surprised even herself with her 274.15-point victory in diving.
“Diving is usually about attitude,” she said. “If you have a couple of good dives and start feeling good about yourself you do well, that’s what happened for me today. But I shouldn’t have won, Chelsea (Bowles, her Tumwater teammate who finished third behind Senior and Aberdeen’s Naomi Wolfenberger) should have won, but she had a technical problem on one dive.”
Nonetheless, Bowles, who moves on to state in both diving and the T-Birds’ 200-free relay team, had difficulty with a reverse full twist, dropping her total to 261.
Capital’s Eidenmuller was the other local swimmer to win an event, barely edging teammate Hoffman in the 100 butterfly. Both recorded state times – Eidenmuller a 1:03.45, Hoffman a 1:03.86. Eidenmuller also advanced to state with a third- place finish in the 200 free.
Tumwater freshman Nicole Howard will compete in multiple events on her first visit to state, qualifying as the third-place finisher in both the 100 free and the 100 back.
Other relay teams to advance include W.F West in the 200 medley and 400 free (Godlewski, Giffey, Matz and Emma Baerny made up both teams) and Tumwater in the 200 free (Howard, Bowles, Marguerite Henderson and Kylie Otton).