Southridge swimmer McLaughlin finds niche in 50 freestyle

October 11, 2012 

Attempting a different event has worked out well for Southridge swimmer Katelyn McLaughlin.

At last weekend’s Mukilteo Invitational in Federal Way, in the same pool where next month’s state swimming and diving championships will be held, McLaughlin notched her first state-qualifying time of the year.

The senior finished second to Wenatchee’s Hannah Bruggman in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.35 seconds — the fastest by a Mid-Columbia swimmer this year.

“This season has been great,” McLaughlin said. “I really loved the meet I had in Federal Way. I was looking to go 25, but I was hoping to go under 26. I was super happy. I was jumping up and down. It was my best swim of the year.”

McLaughlin is a two-time state competitor in the 100 breaststroke, but Southridge coach Jason Hart said they have been staying away from the event in meets this year.

“She was 10th last year in state in the 100 fly, and that was pretty awesome,” Hart said. “But the 50 free swim, I’ve never seen her so excited after a race. Second at Mukilteo is a big deal.”

McLaughlin, a year-round swimmer for the Tri-City Channel Cats, said the 50 free is one of her favorite events.

“I hadn’t swam it the past few years for high school because we had other swimmers that swam it, and they were faster,” she said.

But her 50 was more than fast enough at Mukilteo.

The Suns’ 200 free relay team -- McLaughlin, Rachel Schafer, Breanna Lyons and Jaiden Hamilton -- qualified for state in a third-place time of 1:45.76.

“We lost a couple swimmers from last year, Megan O’Leary and Alisha Sanchez, so I was nervous about the relays,” McLaughlin said. “But we have a freshman that stepped up, Jaiden. She had a great swim on the relay. We all did.”

The Mukilteo Invitational was another resume-builder for McLaughlin this season. She was named a WIAA State Athlete of the Week for swimming after winning three events against Hanford and four against Kamiakin.

McLaughlin hopes to add a few more honors at state. She plans to swim the 50 free again in Federal Way, but she’s undecided on whether the 100 fly or 100 breast would be her second individual event.

“Right now, I’ll be pretty satisfied just making bigs (the top eight) at state,” she said. “That would be a fun way to finish up.”

Green-and-gold bonanza: If the Mukilteo Invitational is any indication, Richland will be a team to watch again at state.

According to the Washington Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association website, Lisa Bratton has the state’s top times in the 200 individual medley (2 minutes, 4.97 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (57.15), while Nicole Weinman holds the second-fastest time in the 200 free (1:55.94).

The Bombers also swam the state’s No. 1 time in the 200 free relay (1:41.67) at Mukilteo.

Before the state championships, however, Richland (4-0 Mid-Columbia Conference) has a league race to settle. It will compete against Hanford (3-0) on Oct. 20 in Walla Walla.

Richland and Hanford both will swim against Wa-Hi (2-1), but the Bombers will not be scored against the Blue Devils because they already met last month.

The Bombers and Falcons originally were supposed to face off Sept. 22 at Prout Pool, but the meet was postponed because of poor air quality from the central Washington fires.

College updates: Former Othello star Natilee Ruiz has begun her career at San Diego State in fine form.

In her first Mountain West Conference meet Sept. 29, Ruiz won the 200 free and 200 back to help the Aztecs beat UNLV 146-143.

Ruiz’s 200 free time of 1:51.26 was the ninth-best in school history, while her 200 back time of 2:02.99 ranks 10th among SDSU swims.

• Seattle University team captain Joe Wertz (Hanford) participated Sept. 8 in Swim Across America, a competition that raises funds for cancer research. He and 14 teammates earned the College Cup after bringing in the most money ($4,920.01) of any college organization in the Seattle event.

In the 2-mile race at Luther Burbank Swim Beach in Mercer Island, Wertz finished sixth in 42:37. Wertz, former Richland swimmer Nick Connors and the rest of the Seattle’s men team will open their season Oct. 20 at Cal State Bakersfield.

The women’s season kicks off today at Washington State. Former Prosser standout Mackenzie Gant is a sophomore at SU this year.

w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; kdorsey@tricityherald.com

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