Sports

Conquering the pool, one race at a time | Swim and Dive

Brian Wright, a senior at Kentwood, completes a 100 freestyle set at practice in preparation for the league meet. - Katherine Smith
Brian Wright, a senior at Kentwood, completes a 100 freestyle set at practice in preparation for the league meet.
— image credit: Katherine Smith

Brian Wright does his talking in the pool.

The soft-spoken Wright, a senior at Kentwood this year, was undefeated in individual races until the end of the boys swim and dive season, when he finished second to his teammate.

It only makes sense that Wright would be a standout and a leader on the team, as he has been immersed in the swimming community his entire life. His parents met swimming for Central Washington University – his dad, Dave, teaches and coaches at Tahoma High, and his mom, Sharon, works and coaches at Kentwood, older sister Erica was a swimmer, too.

Swimming lessons at the Kent-Meridian pool, where the Kentwood team practices, is his first memory at a pool. He was three.

Wright’s first experience on a swim team came when he was eight for the summer team at Fairwood Golf and Country Club, which is a part of the Midlakes league where Sharon was coaching.

“It was just something I did because it was what my family did, and I loved it,” Wright said.

He tried out for a few club teams over the years, but didn’t commit to one until this past year. He swam the long course season for Valley Aquatics’ VAST last spring and summer and continued with the short course season this fall.

While following in the family footsteps, Wright has also found his love of water polo. He was 13 and at the Fairwood team banquet when he first heard about the other water sport.

Technically, water polo at the high school level is a club sport, as opposed to a school team. When Wright was a freshman, Kentridge High School was the only school with a water polo club. That’s why Wright played with them the fall of his freshman year.

From his first experience with the Kentridge group, Wright wanted to recruit enough Kentwood kids to have their own club. His junior year it finally happened.

Swimming is mostly an individual sport, with individual performances in races earning points that go toward the team score in a meet.

“It (water polo) offered me a chance to use my skills in swimming in a real team sport,” Wright said of what drew him in to water polo.

Currently Wright is gearing up for the West Central District meet this weekend and has his eyes on the state championship meet later this month.

The 200 individual medley — which is comprised of 50 yards of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle —  is Wright’s favorite event these days.

“I’m pretty even in all my strokes, so that was a pretty good fit for me,” Wright said.

Last weekend at the South Puget Sound League meet he finished second in the 200 individual medley and also anchored the school’s 400 freestyle relay, which edged out the relay team from Curtis by one-hundredth of a second to win first place. Earlier in the season he was a part of the 200 free relay team that broke the school record in the event and also met the state qualifying time.

“We were really confident in our ability to break it because we were all swimming really fast,” Wright said about setting the school record. “It sort of seemed unreal at the time, it’s just hitting me now.”

Also this season, Wright made the state qualifying time in the 200 freestyle, a first for him.

“He is super competitive,” Sharon said at after a practice last week. “He will do very well if he’s racing somebody.”

Sharon reflected on her son’s contributions to the team, the everyday as well as the points he scores at meets.

“He’s a leader by example,” Sharon said. “He’s a pretty quiet leader … He’s a leader who will get  in the water and take care of business.”

For the younger Wright swimming is about doing what he loves and seeing growth in himself and in the team.

“I like winning and improving,” Wright said. “How Kentwood has improved over four years keeps me motivated. I love to see my teammates get better and better.”

 

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