The schedule for this year’s District 5/6/7 Girls Swimming and Diving Championships is leading to a change in strategy for some area teams.
In previous seasons, swimmers competed on back-to-back days at Ellensburg’s CWU Aquatic Center.
But the meet has been moved to Moses Lake High School, and racers must adjust to more than a new district pool.
Swimmers will compete in preliminaries Thursday and finals Saturday. The diving prelims will be held Friday, so there’s no swimming that day.
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“The girls that are typically at the top of the district and are competing and/or vying for state spots or state times, typically we haven’t had those kids race all out on the first night,” Richland/Hanford coach Randy Willis said. “We make sure they get safely into the finals and put everything into finals. From that standpoint, we’ll approach it differently. We’ll swim at greater intensity on the first day knowing we have a day of rest.”
Other coaches aren’t as concerned about the break in the swim action.
“We simply have to prepare differently,” Southridge coach Jason Hart said. “Truthfully, during the season we have had many Thursday/Saturday meet combos so it should be no big deal.”
Still, the need to be sharp is especially important for the Class 3A swimmers and divers from Hanford, Kamiakin, Kennewick and Southridge. They are fighting for one state allocation in each event. Three allocations per event are up for grabs in the 2A and 4A meets.
Hanford has at least one top-two seed in every individual event except the 50-yard freestyle. Sophomore Maddie Elliott will try to repeat as district champion in the 500 free. Ninth-grader Kayla Burck leads the field in the 200 free and is second to Southridge freshman Hilary Petersen in the 100 free. The Falcons also hold the No. 1 seed in all three relays.
Hanford is determined to take back the team title after its six-year championship streak ended last season. Kamiakin won by three points.
That fact is not lost on Kamiakin junior Madison Thurber, who will return to defend her titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
“We’ve talked about that a lot,” Thurber said. “It’s going to be really close. We’re excited just to get to Moses Lake and see how well we do under the circumstances.”
Kennewick senior Alexis Murphy, in the 100 breaststroke, is the only Tri-City 3A swimmer who has qualified for the Nov. 13-14 state meet in Federal Way. She is the defending district champion in the breast and is also seeded first in the 100 butterfly. Her twin sister, Blair, is the top seed in the 50 free.
In the 4A ranks, defending state co-champion Richland likely will duke it out for the team championship with Wenatchee, which seeks its sixth district crown in seven years.
Bombers sophomore Claire Schaef will try to hold on to the titles she won last year in the 200 and 500 free, though she hasn’t competed in the 500 since the beginning of the season.
She will face stiff competition in both events from Wenatchee sophomore Jordan Hartley, whose seed time in the 200 is only six-hundredths of a second behind Schaef.
“I know that Friday I’m going to Channel Cats (club) practice,” said Schaef, who is also preparing for December’s Speedo Winter Junior Championships. “It’s going to be an interesting weekend. I’m not tapered at all.”
Richland senior Lauren Hall, who is seeded third in the 100 fly and 100 back, will attempt to chase down Wenatchee junior Jessica Wierzbicki in both events.
Wierzbicki won district and state titles in the fly last year, but she won’t defend her district championship in the 200 IM. Earlier this month in Moses Lake, she lowered her state-qualifying time in the backstroke to 1 minute, 0.14 seconds.
Hall knows she and the Bombers will have their hands full with Wierzbicki and the other Wenatchee swimmers.
“They’re always pretty competitive,” Hall said. “They always have their fast swimmers and are ready to race, but they motivate us to race.”
The 100 breast could be a battle between Wenatchee’s Isabelle Dressel, who took second at state last year, and Richland’s Katie Schroder. Both juniors have qualified again for state.
Walla Walla’s best hopes for individual state berths rest with sophomore Paige Gardner, the No. 2 seed in the 100 back and 100 free, and junior Mackenzie Hale, who will go for her third consecutive state appearance in the 500 free.
Hale is seeded third in the 200 IM with a time of 2:18.90, trailing Richland’s Alyssa Musick (2:17.28) and Eisenhower’s Maya Cunningham (2:14.98).
Sunnyside’s highest-seeded individual is Jolissa Mendoza, who is seventh in the 200 free.
On the diving board, look for defending district champion Ali Brandt of Wenatchee, Ali Pierce of Eastmont and Kelsea Hinkley of Richland to put up big points. Hinkley, Pierce and Brandt are the top three returning divers from last year’s state meet.
In the 2A competition, Prosser has No. 3 seeds in Becky Wildman (100 breast), Anette Erickson (100 fly) and the 200 medley and 400 free relays. Viannei Perez has the strongest chance to represent Grandview at state as the No. 6 seed in the 100 fly.
DISTRICT 5/6/7 GIRLS SWIMMING AND DIVING
When: Thursday (4A swim preliminaries at 11 a.m., 2A/3A prelims at 4 p.m.), Friday (4A and 2A/3A diving prelims at noon) and Saturday (4A swim and dive finals at 10:30 a.m., 2A/3A finals at 5 p.m.)
Where: Moses Lake High School
PREPARING FOR STATE
Local competitors who have qualified for next month’s WIAA state swim and dive championships in Federal Way:
Richland — Claire Schaef (200- and 500-yard freestyle); Katie Schroder (100 breaststroke); Kelsea Hinkley (diving); Kelsey Olsen (diving)
Kennewick — Alexis Murphy (100 breaststroke)
Hanford — Amanda Andersen (diving)
Kamiakin — Saige Polanik (diving)