Young team eyes big splash

Bremerton junior Steve Buchta has emerged as one of the Knights’ top swimmers, despite joining the team midway through the 2008-09 season as a first-time swimmer. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Bremerton junior Steve Buchta has emerged as one of the Knights’ top swimmers, despite joining the team midway through the 2008-09 season as a first-time swimmer.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

With its top swimmer from a year ago no longer in the pool, the Bremerton boys swim team is leaning on new leaders to stay afloat.

The departure of former Knight J.R. Ramos, a two-time state qualifier who graduated in June, has opened the lane for returners Mark Woolnough, Soren Mortvedt and Steve Buchta and others.

“J.R. was kind of our rock, we could always depend on him,” coach Justin Adrian said. “Hopefully he kind of paved the way for the other guys.”

As the Olympic League schedule continues to unfold — the team participated in its third meet yesterday against Olympic — Adrian is preaching hard work and experimenting with different lineups. Seventeen swimmers turned out, but that number has dropped to 14.

For Adrian, the biggest challenge early this season has been to ensure his swimmers log the required 10 practices to participate in league meets — and get in shape.

“Just from the start, compared to last year, we’ve been busting their butts a little more,” Adrian said of the first few practices. “They were sore. I was telling them, ‘Guys, you’re not going to be where you were last year. But you’re going to sleep well.’”

Woolnough, a club swimmer who advanced to state in 2008-09, is about “where he was last season” in terms of registered times. He is swimming the 100-yard breaststroke and 500 freestyle and a slew of other events.

Buchta, a junior who joined the team late last season, also is making an impact. Adrian didn’t specify which events he expects Buchta to race as the season splashes on, but Buchta is learning quickly and has the skill set to make postseason noise.

“He’s really stepped up,” Adrian said. “It’s so unfortunate he didn’t start swimming before, because he’s just a natural, talented athlete. He has a feel for the water.”

Mortvedt took up swimming just a year ago and he, too, is developing quickly. He joined the Olympic Aquatic Club, to which Woolnough belongs, and the decision has paid dividends.

Adrian expects Mortvedt’s times to continue to drop.

“He’s just picked it up and really loved it,” Adrian said. “He’s leaps and bounds above where he was last year.”

Only six swimmers were eligible for team’s season-opener against Kingston because the remaining eight hadn’t met the 10-practice quota, but the team was near full strength yesterday and should be for the Dec. 15 meet against Sequim as well.

Adrian implemented an optional three-day-a-week “dry land” workout in hopes of bolstering his team’s conditioning. Additionally, he is encouraging his swimmers to work our during the holidays — the team has a three-week break from mid-Decemeber to the first week of January — so they come back stronger for the second part of the league schedule.

“If the swimmers take advantage of (the break), it’s kind of beneficial to them,” Adrian said. “It’s kind of like a midterm for them.”

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