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Back in the pool and ready to make waves
The SPSL North girls swim and dive league season is shaping up to be a repeat of last year with Tahoma and Mount Rainier expected to compete for the division title.
Bears dual meet against Rams circled on the calendar
The Tahoma Bears went undefeated in the league last year until the last meet of the season when the team lost to Mount Rainier.
Tahoma High senior and co-captain Kayla von Michalofski said that the loss has strengthened the teams resolve and this year the Bears want to come out on top.
“We were undefeated last year until the very end when Mount Rainier beat us,” Von Michalofski said of why she’s most looking forward to this year’s meet with Mount Rainier. “I think it made us pull together.”
Key returners for Tahoma this year include co-captain Jessica Miller, Haillie Mazick, Brooke Bailey, co-captain Allie Duven, Ashley Lewis, Austin Hanger, Lindsey Hanger, and MacKenzie Dress.
Top newcomers are Alex Stein, Jill Collins, and Olivia Halbert.
Tahoma went 4-1 in the league which is rounded out by Kentwood, Kentlake, Kentridge, and Kent-Meridian.
“We bond,” Miller said of the team’s strengths. “And the thing I like the most is that we’re always supportive of each other. We’re not just strong in varsity, we’re strong throughout the team.”
Von Michalofski said that the support and bonding of team is what she looks forward to each year.
“It’s like a second family,” von Michalofski said.
One bonding activity the Bears will participate in this year will be to run the Bra Dash 5K at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley, an event organized by Mazick’s mom, Kristi Blair, to raise money for local breast cancer research.
“I think it’s a great idea,” von Michalofski said.
Falcons ready to fly
Nearby, rival Kentlake is also looking to be in the hunt this year and improve on its 2012 record of 3-2, with losses to Tahoma and Mount Rainier last year.
This year the Falcons have a new head coach, Brad Williams, who has a background in competitive swimming and whose daughter is on the team.
Key returners for Kentlake this season are Kyndal Phillips, Allie Losacco, Trisha Glover, Laura Williams, Erin Jones, and Jenny Stephanescu.
Phillips said she sees one of the teams strengths being how well the girls get along.
“Definitely how close we are,” Phillips said. “We get to do a lot of team bonding,”
Glover said that the meets and enthusiasm her teammates bring to them is her favorite part of the season.
“Everyone gets really pumped and really excited about it,” Glover said.
The focus of the beginning of the season has been on increasing their endurance and getting back into the grove of practice, Williams said.
“(We’ve been) putting down a base and getting people’s strength back up.”
Williams also said that she is looking towards the league meet in the post season.
“That’s where we have the most people (of the post season meets),” Williams said.
Kentwood hopes to make waves in rivalry with Kentlake
The Kentwood girls swim team has lots of room to grow this year after finishing 1-4 last year.
Seniors Natalie Lesnick and Iliana Sanchez have their sights set on improving individually and as a team as well as enjoying their senior year.
Lesnick is working toward a trip to the state finals in the 200 and 500 free and Sanchez’s goal is to qualify for the league meet.
“I feel like everyone really gets along and we encourage each other,” Sanchez said.
Lesnick added that she’s looking forward to the 200 free relay and getting it qualified for the district meet at the end of October.
Sanchez and Lesnick said that the team they are most looking forward to swimming against this year is Kentlake.
“I’d really like to beat Kentlake,” Lesnick said. “I just think if everyone tries hard and gets best times, it doesn’t matter who we beat.”
Top returners this year include Lesnick, Sanchez, Drew Vagen, and Mae Waite. Key newcomers include Hannah Lesnick and Delaney Mathews.
Meets to watch this season include Tahoma at Kentlake at Covington Aquatic Center on Sept. 19, Kentwood at Tahoma at Covington Aquatic Center on Sept. 26, and Tahoma at Mount Rainier on Oct. 15 at Mount Rainier.