It has been an exciting season thus far for the Kennewick girls swim team.
After losing their opener to Southridge, the Lions tied with Kamiakin in their second dual meet of the season, then finished fourth out of eight teams at the Mid-Columbia Invitational on Sept. 15.
They are hoping for similar success today against their conference rivals at the Tri-City Championships at Prout Pool in Richland.
“We’re almost redefining what Kennewick swimming and diving is,” Lions coach Erin Holmes said. “We have a lot of fun at practices and meets, but at the same time, when we’re here, they know that it’s time to work, and we want to place high in the district. They’re starting to realize we can do pretty well this year.”
With 14 swimmers, Kennewick has the smallest team in the Mid-Columbia Conference, but the Lions don’t necessarily see that as a disadvantage.
“We’re not really there to beat people,” junior Samantha Lester said. “We’re there to race. We know it’s not going to be easy to beat someone with points as a team, but it doesn’t get us down.”
Last year, the Lions had just nine swimmers, but four of them — Lester, Alexis Klippert, Hailey Murphy and Jacque Ines — made history as the first Kennewick relay squad to go to state. All but Klippert are back this season.
New to the Lions are freshman twins Alexis and Blair Murphy, the sisters of Hailey Murphy, a four-year individual state qualifier. All three Murphys swim year-round for the Tri-City Channel Cats.
“We’re getting a lot closer this year than we ever have been, since we were little kids,” Hailey Murphy said. “Plus, it’s my last year of high school, and I’m gonna be leaving, so to leave my family, my sisters on a good note, that’s important.”
The younger Murphys should be just fine.
In a conference loss to Hanford on Tuesday, Alexis won the 200-yard individual medley — just ahead of Hailey — and took second in the 100 breaststroke, while Blair earned her own runner-up finish in the 50 freestyle.
At the Mid-Columbia Invitational at Kennewick’s Serier Pool, Alexis placed third in the 500 free, and Blair was fifth in the 50 free. In the 100 breast, Alexis finished fourth and Blair seventh.
The twins remember how small the team was when their older sibling started and how the Lions struggled in league. Last season, they didn’t win a CBBN meet.
“Every single year, I’ve watched all their meets, and I’ve been amazed at how well they’ve succeeded and how fast they’ve gotten,” Blair Murphy said.
But having fun is just as vital as clocking personal bests or winning an event, according to Hailey Murphy.
“I’ve actually been told by some people on other high school teams that they’re jealous of us because of how close we all are and how much fun we have. They see it and that’s what it’s all about.”
Bombers, Falcons facing off next month: The Richland-Hanford dual meet has been rescheduled for Oct. 20 at Whitman Pool in Walla Walla.
The teams originally were scheduled to compete last Saturday at Prout Pool, but the meet was postponed because of poor air quality from the central Washington fires.
Richland/Hanford coach Kathy Piper said she will score the teams against each other in Walla Walla, where both squads already were scheduled to face the Blue Devils.
West Valley 101, Prosser 67: Danielle McKeirnan won the 500-yard freestyle Tuesday, but the Mustangs did not pick up any other wins.
McKeirnan was a runner-up to West Valley’s Lauren Feldman in the 100 butterfly.
All three Prosser relays took second, while Kassidy Burnett was a runner-up to West Valley’s Abby Poston in the 200 individual medley. Meanwhile, Kate Burnett was second to Poston in the 100 breaststroke.
West Valley’s Caitlin Quaempts posted state-qualifying times in the 50 free and 100 backstroke.
w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; email@example.com