Lisa Bratton will be the first to admit she feels more comfortable in a swimming pool than out of it.
“It’s weird,” she said. “If I’m having a bad day, school’s not going well, or I’m stressed out, I jump in the pool and feel better immediately.
“If I’m tired and I want to go to bed, I’ll jump in and start swimming and I’m ready to go,” she continued. “I feel better in a swimsuit, better than clothes. I wear yoga pants and a t-shirt every day.”
With this attitude, it’s no wonder the Richland High School senior was named the MVP of the Tri-City Herald’s All-Area Girls Swim Team for the second consecutive year.
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Bratton, who is headed to swim next fall at Texas A&M University, won Class 4A state titles in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke last month in Federal Way.
She was anchor on Richland’s second-place 400 freestyle relay team.
She swam a leg in the Bombers’ fourth-place 200 Medley Relay team at state too.
“The season turned out just how I wanted it to,” Bratton said. “My goal all all season was to break the 200 IM record. In the 100 back, I was hoping to be a little faster. But it was still a time drop.”
Her coach, Kathy Piper, said Bratton could have gone overseas to swim for USA Swimming during the high school season, and that the senior could have been working out in Colorado Springs.
“Instead, she wanted to swim with her teammates,” said Piper, who also coaches Hanford High and was the Herald’s coach of the year.
Bratton said it was an easy decision.
“The meet overseas would have been a great experience,” she said. “But it was so early in the season. I didn’t want to miss out on state my senior year. The energy and bonding was so great I didn’t want to miss out.”
Bratton said she remembered when she was a freshman and looked up to other girls who could have swam at a higher level but instead stayed with the Bombers.
“I understood that,” she said. “I always try to put on smile on my face and help where I can. Kind of passing knowledge on.”
Three of Bratton’s teammates — Lauren Hall, Alyssa Musick and McKenzie Schroder — joined her on the first team.
Southridge state 3A diving champion Danielle Freund also made the first team, as did the Hanford trio of Mylie Oberg, Linnea Peacock and Lisa Tixier. Sunnyside’s Cassadie Moore rounded out the first team.
For Piper, the award was something she said she shares with assistants Randy Willis and Melissa Stommel.
“The three of us have been together for a long time,” said Piper.
But considering the large number of swimmers who graduated last June, Piper said she and the other coaches didn’t know what to expect.
“This year was hard,” Piper said. “We lost a lot of kids after last year. It was a lot tougher to keep the enthusiasm going and the kids focused. But high school swimming is just so fun.”
2013 Tri-City Herald All-Area swimming team
MVP: Lisa Bratton, senior, Richland
Coach of the year: Kathy Piper, Richland and Hanford
Danielle Freund, senior, Southridge
Lauren Hall, sophomore, Richland
Cassadie Moore, junior, Sunnyside
Alyssa Musick, sophomore, Richland
Mylie Oberg, senior, Hanford
Linnea Peacock, senior, Hanford
McKenzie Schroder, junior, Richland
Lisa Tixier, senior, Hanford
BreAnn Bell, freshman, Richland; Danielle Brandon, senior, Kamiakin; Kayla Burnight, junior, Hanford; Mackenzie Hale, freshman, Walla Walla; Samantha Lester, senior, Kennewick; Alexis Murphy, sophomore, Kennewick; Blair Murphy, sophomore, Kennewick; Katie Schroder, freshman, Richland; Janae Sullivan, junior, Hanford