Questions answered about high school girls swimming

Tri-City HeraldOctober 7, 2013 

swimming richland hanford walla dual prout pool

Richland's Lisa Bratton starts off the team's 200-yard medley relay during a recent meet.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

It seems like baseball has been the sport in the Mid-Columbia that has sent its fair share of high school athletes on to NCAA Division I schools.

But there is an argument that girls swimming around here does just as well in that department.

Over the years, a number of Mid-Columbia girls have moved on to the collegiate level and done well.

The talent level has been developed through good programs, such as the Tri-City Channel Cats, local athletic clubs and the high school teams.

So as we enter the final month of the current girls high school swim season, here are five things any fan needs to know:

1. Who has the best high school team in the region?

To no one’s surprise, it’s Richland. The Bombers have pretty much wrapped up the Mid-Columbia Conference title, with just a matchup with Kennewick set for Thursday.

“Richland has a diversity of talent in just about every event,” said Southridge coach Jason Hart.

Katharine Curles, Walla Walla’s head coach, says Hanford should be there too.

“Richland and Hanford have a lot of year-round swimmers who give them a lot of strength, and (head coach) Kathy (Piper) and (assistant coach) Randy (Willis) have developed a really strong team over the past many years.”

The Bombers were hit hard by graduation last year, losing eight seniors. But, as Willis points out, five others return this year after competing at the state meet last season.

A side note: Richland and Hanford have been each other’s nemesis over the past five years.

“The only meet Richland or Hanford has lost in the past five years is to each other,” said Willis. “Hanford is 50-4 in the past five years, Richland is 52-2.”

2. Who are this season’s stars?

“Hands down, the top swimmer in the area is (Richland’s) Lisa Bratton,” said Piper.

Makes sense.

Last year at the 4A state meet as a junior, Bratton won state titles in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. She also swam a leg on the second-place 400 freestyle relay team, and another leg on the fourth-place 200 free relay squad.

“She is nearing in on her goal of making a state-qualifying time in every individual event, except diving,” said Piper. “That has not been done in many, many years (not perhaps since Southridge’s Cassie Hamilton pulled it off).”

Hart points out Bratton is a world- ranked — yes, the world — swimmer in the 200 backstroke.

“Lisa Bratton probably could compete to win any event at state,” said Hart.

Also, keep an eye on Hanford senior Lisa Tixier, who swam legs on two of the Falcons’ high-placing relay teams (second in the 400 free, third in the 200 free) at state last year. She also placed third in the 200 IM, and fourth in the 100 free.

In diving, Southridge senior Danielle Freund placed fourth at the 3A state meet last season.

Other mentions include Kamiakin diver Danielle Brandon, Richland sophomore Alyssa Musick and Walla Walla senior Emma Timm-Ballard (who is recovering from a knee injury.

3. What are the big meets coming up?

Almost everyone just competed at the Mukilteo Invitational this past weekend.

But this coming Saturday, the Tri-City Championships will be held at 11 a.m. at Prout Pool in Richland.

The district meet is Nov. 1-2 at at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, while diving will be held at Moses Lake.

The state meet is once again in Federal Way, on Nov. 15-16.

4. How does a swimmer get to state?

During any time this regular season, a swimmer can qualify for the state meet if she meets a qualifying standard — described by Willis as the average of the 12th-place time in an event from the three previous state meets.

Bratton, for instance, qualified for state in four events Saturday in Mukilteo.

What, you didn’t meet the qualifying standard during the regular season?

Fine, finish first or second at the district meet, and you’re in for state.

Each event at the state meet can have 24 entries.

5. I’ve got limited time, but would like to see some of the better events around here. What would be the top events to watch?

Whatever Bratton is doing, currently the 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley, and the 100 butterfly.

“The events to watch would be the relays,” said new Kennewick coach Micah Larson.

Willis agrees.

“Richland and Hanford 400 freestyle relays,” he said. “Both should be championship finalists in November at the state meet.”

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