OLYMPIA — Huddled in a corner, the Olympia High School girls swim team playfully sang along as Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” echoed loudly over the PA system.
The Bears, swim caps on their heads and a catchy pop tune in their hearts, belted out the lyrics and danced around before the track abruptly went silent in mid-song, ending the squad’s impromptu karaoke session.
The announcer calmly informed the participating swimmers and those in attendance the intermission was over and the meet would continue momentarily.
Stoppage of the song drew a disappointing “boo” from the Olympia swimmers. This celebration was over.
No matter, because the Bears didn’t have to wait long for the cheers to start up again.
Olympia hit all the right notes, capturing 10 out of 11 events to successfully defend its title at the fourth annual South Sound Relays at The Evergreen State College on Saturday.
The Bears finished with 961 points, easily distancing themselves from the other nine schools.
Tumwater, which was the runner-up at last year’s Class 2A state meet, was second with 748 points, while Central Kitsap (642 points) finished third.
Steilacoom (618), Shelton (559), Lakes (457), Capital (444), River Ridge (381), South Kitsap (357) and Black Hills (233) completed the order of finish.
The meet was created by Olympia coach Mel Smith and Capital coach Burke Anderson to provide an event for local schools to compete against each other while showcasing the team aspect of the sport with an all-relay meet.
“This is definitely different than most other meets,” Olympia freshman Maya Hansen-Tilkens said. “It’s a lot of fun. The place is packed, there’s a lot of swimmers from schools we normally wouldn’t get to swim against. I had to get used to the lanes being so full.”
Hansen-Tilkens helped open the Bears’ dominating day by teaming with Ali Norman, Sarah Norman and Reagan Underland to win the 400-yard medley relay (4 minutes, 25.57 seconds).
“Mel gave us a pretty good pep talk before the meet,” Hansen-Tilkens said. “A lot of the swimmers here have known each other for years through club swimming. So a lot of pride goes into winning at this meet.”
The Bears finished first and second in the 2x200 freestyle, with the team of Anya Dickinson-Cove and Honour Middleton posting the top time of 4:28.24 and the Olympia team of Melissa Ward and Julia Raible close behind in 4:36.23.
The Central Kitsap duo of Leah Avery and Grace Smith prevented the Bears from sweeping all the events by winning the 2x100 medley (2:16.68). Olympia wasn’t far behind in the event, however, finishing second and third.
The Bears closed out the meet by winning the final eight events.
Hansen-Tilkens and Meagan Smith won the 2x50 freestyle (55.99), while the team of Raible, Dickinson-Cove, Amelia Moore and Bryn Benson captured the 800 freestyle (9:29.02).
Hansen-Tilkens posted her third win by teaming with Sarah Norman in the 2x100 butterfly (2:07.37).
“You really have to put your trust into each other when you’re doing relays,” said Sarah Norman, a junior who finished eighth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 100 fly at the 4A state meet last season. “It’s obviously much different than when you’re swimming in an individual event. We have a lot of talented swimmers on this team. We’re just pushing each other all the time.”
Sarah Norman’s sister, freshman Ali, paired with Ward to edge the Central Kitsap team of Leah and Sarah Avery to win the 2x100 backstroke, which was one of the meet’s closest events.
Ali Norman and Leah Avery both completed the first leg in 1:06.26, setting up a dramatic finish for Ward, who posted a career-best time in the event to give the Bears the victory in 2:12.14.
“Ali just did such an incredible job at the start. I knew I needed to finish just as strong. I knew it was going to be close,” said Ward, a sophomore.
Also winning for Olympia were Danzhu Zhao and Michelle Yan in the 2x100 freestyle (2:04.72), Ali and Sarah Norman, Middleton and Underland in the 200 freestyle (1:47.52), Sarah Norman and Kirsten Jones in the 2x100 breaststroke (2:30.18) and the team of Zhao, Yan, Ward and Middleton in the 400 freestyle (4:04.86).
“It’s all about chemistry in the relays, finding that team that clicks together,” Smith said. “We’re mixing and matching and trying a lot of different combinations because at the end of the year we want the best four swimming with each other.”