Shallow numbers not sinking BHS girls swim

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Casey Burt joined the Olympic Aquatic Club following her sophomore season with the Bremerton girls swim team.

The decision to join OAC, a year-round swim program, paid dividends; Burt enters her junior year in midseason form with honed and improved skills.

“She is leaps and bounds above where she was last year,” said fourth-year Bremerton girls swim coach Justin Adrian, who hopes to see more BHS swimmers follow in Burt’s wake. “If we can get one or two (year-round swimmers) every year, it really gives us a competitive advantage against the schools we’re swimming against.”

The 2009 Bremerton girls swim team is comprised of 12 members, but only two of them — Burt and freshman Erin Woolnough — are year-round swimmers. That means the majority of the team has yet to hit peak form even though the regular season started Sept. 10.

Since swimming is contingent on conditioning, Adrian has spent the early part of the season trying to get his swimmers in shape. Some of them had never jumped in a pool for competitive purposes prior to this season. Others simply ignored the sport during the offseason.

“It takes a lot of dedication, it really does,” Adrian said of swimming year-round. “A lot of them are out of shape because they haven’t swum since last year. They come in and realize they can’t just jump in and be where they were last year. So we’re getting back to where we were, tightening up their techniques and getting them to swim faster.”

Even Burt, who most likely will swim the 100-yard butterfly, 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, is swimming slower than she prefers. In the opener against Port Angeles, Burt hovered around the 1-minute, 24-second mark in the 100 fly, about five seconds slower than her preseason goal of 1:18 or 1:19. Part of that could be attributed to the fact that OAC members don’t swim in August.

“You just want to beat your own times,” Burt said. “Mainly, you want to improve for yourself.”

A member of the team since her freshman season, Burt has emerged as a leader for the Knights. From top to bottom, Burt said, the team is boosting its core strengths — speed and technique — and also showing marked improvement on starts from the block.

“With technique will come speed,” she said. “So you’ve got to work on your core a lot, get your core strengths so you can keep your line when you’re swimming and then go faster.”

Team members are required to log 10 practices to be eligible for regular-season meets, but Adrian had a few swimmers join late. As a result, BHS had just eight eligible swimmers when it hosted Port Angeles in a loss Sept. 10. The team didn’t have to forfeit any swims, but it was outmanned by PA’s 30-plus-member team. To be competitive and “comfortable” covering all the races in a meet, including relays, Adrian said a team needs closer to 12 swimmers.

“We had some good swims,” he said of the PA meet. “But the meet was just kind of dominated by (Port Angeles’) presence. They had a lot of swimmers.”

Adrian keeps a spreadsheet of all his swimmers’ times and will monitor it to mark the progress of the team as the season unfolds. He also hopes to see more swimmers turn out — the boys team had 24 members last season — to bolster the program.

In order for that to happen, however, it’s up to members of the team to encourage friends and classmates to join.

“We’re always looking for more swimmers,” Adrian said. “The biggest thing is to build (the program) back up and try to get in the 20s with the (total number) of swimmers.”

The Knights hope to compete at the district meet in November, but Adrian knows little about the competition in the Olympic League and how his team stacks up.

As a result, the team is focused on its own progress and having a good time along the way.

“Swimming is not really a team sport, but it is a team sport,” Adrian said. “We try to get them to rally around each other and enjoy it and have fun with the swim meets.”

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