Swim team studies Olympics for tricks

Team learns lessons from the world's best.

“POULSBO – Intently watching the Olympics on TV, the North Kitsap swimming and diving team has taken inspiration from teams half a world away. And they wouldn’t mind stealing some of their tricks, either. Swimming is prominent in the local news, said swimming coach Greg Braun after North Kitsap’s meet with Central Kitsap on Tuesday. It’s been a really good motivator. North lost the meet, 76-108. But Braun was happy with one thing as he scanned the scores: improved times. And there were a lot of them. That’s a personal best, Braun said, moving his finger down the page. That’s a personal best. That too. That too … Braun said improvement is the yardstick he measures his team by. One example was Kelly Joines, who was upset with her time in the 50 freestyle, where she placed fifth. She came up to me and said, I didn’t do well. I got fifth,’ Braun said. Yeah, but you were two and a half seconds faster. That’s what it’s all about. The best performance of the meet was made by Jacklene Salwei, who took first in both the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle. Her time in the 200 qualified her for state; her time in the 500 was short by only 1.2 seconds. Another big jump, Braun said, was made by Ashley Rasmusen, who took first in the 100 butterfly. Another first was taken by Christen Pariser, who was tops in 50 freestyle with a time of 29.11 seconds. We sit down in practice and start saying how everyone did, Braun said, and it’s easy to give recognition to kids because their times keep getting faster and faster. Some of that speed may have come from watching this year’s Olympics. Mention Megan Kwan, the gold medalist from Puyallup, and a smile spreads across Ashley Rasmusen’s face. A competitive swimmer for nine years, Rasmusen has met Kwan and several other top swimmers in swim meets across the west. She’s nice, Rasmusen said of Kwan, a high school junior who got PE credit for representing her country in Sydney. She always smiles and talks – you know. Rasmusen used to be in Maki Aquatics, and would go around at big swim meets, getting autographs. Now some of those swimmers whose names Rasmusen has scrawled on pieces of paper are swimming in Sydney. And Rasmusen is watching. I try to look to see how they do their strokes, to see if they’re long or short or what, Rasmusen said. As for her own swimming this year, Rasmusen said, It’s been fun. I get to meet new people. But I want to swim different swims, I’ve just done the I.M. and 100 fly. She added, The first meet I didn’t do so well, and in the second I dropped some time. But I can go faster. Another swimmer is junior Stacie Brydon. She is in her second year on the team. I’m averaging about four seconds better in each event. My strokes are longer, my breathing’s a lot better. Brydon said she went to the gym this year to get better. She has also been watching the Olympic games. It’s amazing, all of them, what motivates them to go that fast she said of the swimmers. Brydon said she watches the swimmers, especially how fast they are when they come off the blocks, and how they seem to be halfway down the pool so quickly. Brydon has goals too. She went to districts last year and wants to go back. It’s a great event, she said. It’s really exciting. Braun thinks the Olympics happening right as the swimming season gets underway has helped. (The swimmers) watch what they do off the walls and in their starts, he said. And sure enough, kids come in doing stuff different than they had before. Stuff they’d seen and heard. “