Sports

Swimmers dive into new season

The Jefferson swimming team started the season by beating Rogers 119-55.

Even more impressive, Jefferson swimmers swept all events with first-place finishes.

“I don’t think we’ve ever done that, at least not while I’ve been coach,” said Jefferson coach Kevin Zacher. “The kids swam well. It was a good way to start the season.”

Jason Hesla, Trevor Cray, Danny Smith and Andrew Jung each won two individual events. They also teamed up in various combinations with Matt Diotte, Steve Schneider and B.J. Smith to win all three relays. Jefferson’s Billy Holdsworth won the diving competition.

“When we were coming into the meet we had no idea how good Rogers would be,” said Hesla, a senior. “We came in thinking it would be a very close meet, but we really stuck it out to get all first places. That was quite an accomplishment. We would not only get first, but get third or fourth. We had the backbone. That’s basically how your team wins.”

But Jefferson didn’t dwell on the victory. The team jumped right back into the pool on Thursday with a non-league race against Auburn. This time, however, the Raiders lost 102.5 to 83.5.

“I think they’re tired — they’ve been working hard,” Zacher said of his swimmers. “I expect we’re going to do well as the season goes on.”

Hesla, Cray, Jung and Danny Smith picked up individual wins for Jefferson.

“Between Rogers and Auburn, the difference was in our team,” said Hesla. “At Auburn, we had some guys who were sick and couldn’t come. Those guys would have been crucial to getting the points we would’ve needed to win.”

“I’m pretty excited about what’s to come because of how hard we’re training,” Hesla said. “In years before we’ve relied on guys who swam on club to provide the backbone for our team. But we were lacking the middle structure of a team. In the past couple years we’ve been increasing the workload at practice. Compared to some of the other teams that practice at the pool with us, they seem to be playing games almost every day. What’s going to be a reality slap for them is when they think they are going to be competitive against us but they haven’t been putting in the time and we’ve been working our butts off.

“All in all, we’ll have a pretty good district team this year with a lot of guys going. The state team should be most of the same guys as last year.”

On Tuesday, the Decatur swimming team started the season with a 104-79 loss to Puyallup.

“The first meet is kind of like a wake up,” said Kevin Sweeney, a junior at Bellarmine Prep who swims for Decatur. “We’re going to be good eventually, but it will take work. If we want to make it to state and place at state, we have to work harder.”

The teams were tied at 38 points each after the first five events. Decatur swimmers won the first three races: Joon Youm, Tyson Sullivan, Kevin Sweeney and Adam Reinick teamed up to win the 200 medley relay, Sullivan won the 200 free and Youm won the 200 individual medley.

“We have a lot of kids and they’re fast,” said Youm. “We’re going to win a lot of our meets. We put a lot of effort into it and we have a lot of swimmers.”

But Puyallup pulled ahead as the Gators picked up just one more win in the next seven events — Sullivan’s victory in the 100 breast.

“I’m really excited for this year and this is a great start,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of new freshman who are good, and some other guys who were training with club teams. We just have a better turn out this year.”

Two of the stronger freshman for the Gators are Eric Johnson and Alan Silver. Johnson finished second in the 500 free and second in the 100 breast. Silver was second in the 100 back and third in the 100 free.

“It’s real weird doing a varsity sport for a high school when I’m only in junior high,” said Johnson, who is a ninth grader at Lakota. “It’s fun. We’ve got a strong team. I think we might turn out good and get a couple of people to state.”

“We’re focusing on both winning and improving throughout the season,” Sullivan said. “This is a base meet and we’re going to work on doing better as the season progresses.”

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