If parents of graduates think they have a hard time keeping track of things in the lead-up to the ceremony, then Natilee Ruiz, co-valedictorian of the Othello High School Class of 2012, can provide a little perspective with her schedule today.
After graduation rehearsal at 9:30 a.m., Ruiz will head to Pasco’s Memorial Pool, where she plans to compete in the 100-meter butterfly at the Tri-City Invitational Swim Meet. She also was scheduled for the 100 freestyle, but she thinks she will miss that.
Before swimming, Ruiz has a news interview with Tri-City Channel Cats teammate Lisa Bratton, with whom she will travel to the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month.
Once Ruiz is finished in the pool, she will return to Othello for her mother’s graduation party at 4 p.m., photos at 6 p.m. and the ceremony at 7 p.m.
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Oh, and she’s delivering a speech, which she completed between classes, homework, practice and her brother’s baseball games. She and pal Henry Boersma, who also had a 4.0 grade-point average, will speak tonight, but Ruiz volunteered to let Boersma go first -- a stark difference from how she swims.
“Everything’s just going so fast and in a blur,” Ruiz said. “I’m wondering when it’s gonna hit me. I haven’t had that moment.”
Luckily, she will have the Tri-City Invitational to keep her focused.
Ruiz, a six-time Class 2A state swimming champion, and Bratton, who won the Class 4A 200-yard individual medley for Richland in November, are among 594 entrants in the three-day meet. Today’s events begin at 11:30 a.m., while the competition starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Ruiz looks at this as a fun meet she can share with friends and family before her final preparation for the Olympic Trials, beginning June 25 in Omaha, Neb.
“I just want to get through graduation right now,” said Ruiz, who will swim next year for San Diego State. “Once these events are through, then I can put all my attention on the Olympic Trials. People ask me, ‘Is your goal to get to the Olympics?’ I just want to do my absolute best. I want to go there with a positive attitude and say, ‘OK, I’m gonna go out there and do what I know how to do and swim my heart out.’ ”
Ruiz will be one of the more experienced swimmers in the Tri-City Invitational, a long-course meet hosted by the Channel Cats. Coach Todd Stafek said about 20 teams will compete, including some from Seattle, Boise, Caldwell, Idaho, and Vancouver, Wash.
By his last count, Stafek said 123 Channel Cats are entered in the meet, and 30 to 40 will get their first taste of long-course competition this weekend.
“They’ve all had the opportunity to come practice,” Stafek said. “They know what it’s like, and they’re getting used to it.”
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This weekend’s Tri-City Invitational at Memorial Pool in Pasco will feature 12-and-under, 13-and-over and senior-level divisions, as well as those for ages 11-12, 11 and over, and 10 and under.
Today’s events start at 11:30 a.m. with the 100-meter freestyle, followed by the 100 butterfly, the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 11-and-over 400 free.
The meet picks up at 9 a.m. Saturday with the 200 individual medley and will continue with the 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, 50 and 200 fly, and 50 free. The day concludes with the senior 800 free.
On Sunday, the meet will begin again at 9 a.m. with the 50 and 100 breaststroke, followed by the 200 free individual and relay races, the 50 and 200 back, and the senior 400 IM.
-- Rocky Morrow, Tri-City Herald