Sports

Breathless performance by local swimmers

By COLE COSGROVE

Sports editor

Federal Way athletes were well-represented in the finals of the 2002 Esynchro Age Group Synchronized Swimming Championships that wrapped up Sunday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Federal Way’s Meaghan McKasy helped Seattle Synchro swim to first place in the 16-17 team competition on Saturday, while Natalie Chase of Thomas Jefferson High School finished in second place in Sunday’s 18-19 duet final.

“It didn’t put on that much pressure because it was at home so it felt like a regular competition, which made it better,” Chase said. “We just stayed together and constantly focused on what we wanted.”

“There may have been some homefield advantage,” said Seattle Synchro head coach Khadija Strong. “We practiced at the aquatic center the week before the event. The girls were very determined. They trained very hard. They put in their time.”

McKasy also finished third place in Saturday’s 16-17 trio event, where she teamed up with Traci Bendick and Danielle Waite to score a 74.314. The team overcame a 0.584 deficit after the preliminary round.

Earlier in the week, McKasy and Bendick placed eighth in the 14-15 duet competition.

Chase teamed up with Lacey Brooten for the silver medal in the 18-19 duet competition with a final score of 76.334. Chase and Brooten were in third place after the preliminary round, but moved up to second in the finals.

“I was really surprised because we jumped up to third with figures,” Chase said. “I was totally happy about that.”

Their teammates on Seattle Synchro, Aleksandra Lazovic and Jillian Penner, took the gold medal with a 76.995.

“We felt they (McKasy and Chase) had great performances,” Strong said. “The swimmers reached their goals in obtaining the spots they did. For both of them, this is the best they’ve done with their duets. And that’s the best Meaghan’s team has done.”

McKasy’s team performed its “Mambo Italiano” routine, earning a 76.357 to grab the gold by a full 1.678 over the Rocky Mountain Splash. Swimming with McKasy on the Seattle “A” team was Bendick (Tacoma), Waite (Woodinville), Katie Mahon (Woodinville), Karen Engle (Shoreline), Michele Kraus (Seattle), Jenna Swalin (Kenmore) and Hanna Zak (Kenmore).

In the 18-19 team competition, Seattle finished second to Cincinnati. Seattle scored a 76.867 to Cincinnati’s 76.998. Swimming for Seattle were Rochelle Rock (Spokane), Sophie Wilhoit (Renton), Sachi Maekawa (Seattle), Mari Maekawa (Seattle), Jillian Penner (Seattle), Briana Boskey (Kenmore) and Katie Lorenz (Woodinville).

In the 16-17 duet final, Seattle Synchro’s Sophie Wilhoit and Sachi Maekawa tied for first with a 76.823.

More than 1,000 athletes were competing for national titles in four age divisions.

“The competition ran very smoothly,” Strong said. “We had a great team of volunteers that ran the event.”

McKasy and Chase and their Seattle Synchro teams will advance to the United Airlines Junior Open Championships, July 21-27 in Ypsilanti, Mich.

In the fall, Chase will be a co-captain on her high school swim team at Jefferson.

While the high school season is about speed rather than in synchro, Chase said the endurance she developed during the synchro season will help pay off.

The next big synchronized swimming event that the Aquatic Center will host is the U.S. Open Championships next July.

More information about synchronized swimming and upcoming events can be found at www.usasynchro.org.

Brian Eaton of U.S. Synchronized Swimming contributed to this report.

Sports editor Cole Cosgrove can be reached at 925-5565 and ccosgrove@fedwaymirror.com

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