Olympic High swim teams make a splash

Olympic head coach Paul Henderson hosts practice last week. - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Olympic head coach Paul Henderson hosts practice last week.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Despite the winter cold, the pools at Olympic High School are packed like a hot day in August with girls swimming wrapping up and the boys team starting its season.

The Olympic girls swim team wrapped up the season on a high note, finishing 13th out of 40 teams at the Class 2A state tournament. The Trojans totaled 62.5 points at the state meet, which was hosted at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way two weeks ago. Olympic head coach Paul Henderson said he couldn’t be happier about the results.

“It was as good as it could have been,” he said. “They just swam phenomenally out there.”

Jordan LaHaie, Danielle Nelson, Angela Barnick and Maxine Vanichkul represented the school at the championship meet. The swimmers competed in 10 preliminary events on the first day, and advanced to seven finals events for the second day. Henderson said he could sense his swimmers were fatigued, but he was proud of the results.

The Trojans finished 10th in the 400-yard free relay with a time of 3:55.12, besting their preliminary time of 3:57.78. Henderson said his team’s best swims came in the relays.

“Everybody’s success depends on everybody else in the relays, and they just got faster and faster,” he said. “It got to the point where I didn’t know how fast they could go, so I told them to just go for it, with no limits.”

LaHaie earned a spot on the podium with a seventh-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle. LaHaie swam at state last year, but didn’t place. She said her nerves got to her at the time, and the jitters returned this year. The senior swimmer shook off her anxiety and finished with a time of 5:39.12.

“I was so nervous just watching so many fast swimmers there,” LaHaie said. “It was different, seeing everyone faster than me made me really nervous, but I did a lot better than I thought I would.”

Nelson also earned top honors with a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley. Nelson finished with a time of 2:17.54. She couldn’t top her preliminary time of 2:16.67, but Nelson said she’s still thrilled to place at state in her sophomore year.

“It was such a great feeling to do well, and I’m so proud of our relays,” she added.

Boys start new season

The girls’ squad will wrap up the season at its annual banquet, while Henderson juggles responsibilities between finishing the girls’ season and starting the boys’ season, which begins Dec. 2 against North Kitsap High School at home. Henderson said half the team is made up of rookie swimmers who are making strides in the first week of practices. The Trojans have seven returning seniors for this season.

The school combines practices with Klahowya Secondary School, so the pool is packed during this time of year. Henderson said the first day was scary when swimmers swarmed the pool, looking for a spot on this year’s team. Henderson, who has coached the swim teams at Olympic for 12 years, said he’s thrilled to see what the young swimmers can bring to the table.

“You’re never sure about the rookies who come out, but sometimes they go out there and drop seconds in their races,” he added. “It’s just amazing to watch.”

Senior Seth Bailey and junior Matthew Lutz are the team’s co-captains for the 2010-11 season. Lutz said the team did “alright” last year, but can send more swimmers to districts and regionals this time around. The team failed to place at the state tournament.

Olympic had a large tryout earlier this month compared to past turnouts. A chunk of the team’s new and returning swimmers competed during the offseason for city club teams, which will work to the Trojans’ advantage, Lutz said.

“While other teams have to catch up, we’re already getting better with guys who have been swimming already,” he added.

The roster is compiled of mostly underclassmen, including freshmen True Loan and Reis Meyer. Sophomores Demetris Ogburn and Craig Boekenoogen will also compete for Olympic.

Henderson, who teaches special education at Silver Ridge Elementary School, said the transition between the boys and girls swim seasons is an “absolute rollercoaster” that won’t let up until the Christmas holiday.

“At the end of the day, I’m totally zipped, but I know I’ve given everything,” he said.

Key dates

Dec. 2 - North Kitsap at Olympic

Dec. 7 - Port Angeles at Olympic

Jan. 11 - Klahowya/Sequim at Olympic

Jan. 27 - Bremerton at Olympic

Feb. 3 - League Invitational at Port Angeles

Feb. 12 - West Central District meet

Feb. 18-19 - State Tournament

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