There is more to sports than times, records and standings. In every sport, there are friends and rivalries. However, Kingston and North Kitsap’s girls swim teams combined the two for a unique experience Oct. 5.
In normal rivalries, teams trash talk, play physically and show little respect for their opponent. However, the NK and Kingston rivalry in swimming is not like that.
“There is a friendly rivalry,” NK coach Greg Braun said. “Every time we have swum against Kingston, both teams get the really good stuff out of it. It’s been really helpful over the years to see that.”
Kingston’s coach Erika Vanhuis said: “It’s always fun to watch them come together like that. It’s been going on for a while, and it’s super cool to see that while we are opponents, we cheer each other on.”
Before the meet began, Kingston and NK huddled together to do each other’s cheer in one large group. In addition, NK cheered, high-fived and made a tunnel for Kingston’s seniors who were honored at the meet. Kingston responded by sitting alongside the Vikings squad to cheer for diver Ema Riegel as she performed in front of both coaches.
Kingston and NK’s bond grew because of their similarities within the small communities.
“Training in the same pool has a lot do to with it,” Vanhuis said. “The last couple of years we have been separate but they see each other in passing, and everybody knows who each other is since it’s a small community.”
In addition, the two squads compete for the same clubs during the offseason. Although both sides root each other on, each team wants to win. “Although it is a friendly rivalry, they still don’t want to get beat,” Braun said.
The Vikings dominated this meet, defeating Kingston 116-30 in the 12 events. Whitsitt Braeger led the Vikings to a first-place finish in the 200 medley and captured two second-place finishes in the 50-freestyle and 100-butterfly.
Kingston’s Mimi Hays outlasted NK’s loaded lineup with a first-place finish in 50-free and a second-place finish in 100-free.