POULSBO — Depth. The North Kitsap High School girls swim team is in a unique situation, becoming a big fish in a large pond unlike any of the other fall sports squads for the Vikings.
Athletes from NKHS and Kingston High School will combine forces on the Vikings swim team this year. It’s the only fall sport in the North Kitsap School District that’s pooling athletes from both schools. In the spring, Kingston High School’s gymnastics and golf teams will also combine with North Kitsap High School’s athletic teams due to a smaller amount of athletes participating in those sports as well. The end result is one of the biggest turnouts in the history of North Kitsap Vikings swimming program.
“This is probably one of largest teams in terms of numbers we’ve ever had turnout for our team,” Vikings assistant swimming coach Noreen Reeves said. “We have 31 swimmers out here right now and expect to have 40 by the time school starts.”
Reeves said the team is excited about being one of the few teams that didn’t part due to the opening of Kingston High School.
“Everybody knows everybody. We’re excited to be representing two schools,” she said. “Right now, we’re working on designing a combined logo for the caps they wear in the pool. The logo will be a gold cap with a backwards K that will be directly next to NK. By the time the first meet gets here we will have the caps.”
Vikings swim head coach Greg Braun said fundamentals have been the focus during the first week of practice.
“We’re trying to teach technique and have them gain endurance at the beginning of the season. The majority of races are shorter distances so I’ve had them working on getting off the wall as fast as possible,” he said. “Being fast on the turns is so important in swimming. It helps each of them build speed.”
Stephanie Longmate, who was the Vikings’ lone state competitor in 2006, returns with a solid year of experience under her belt in preparation for her junior campaign.
“Stephanie brings an incredible work ethic to the table. She’s a hardworking kid,” Braun said. “Any kind of workout you put in front of her, she will go after it and get it done. She’s a great example for the rest of the team.”
Braun said he expects junior Ingrid Reeves to perform well in the pool this season. Reeves is one of three captains on the Vikings roster.
“Ingrid was really close to qualifying for state last year,” he said. “Last year, she was coming off a shoulder injury. This year, she’s healthy and with a full year of training I expect big things from her. She’s swimming stronger.”
Reeves said is ready for the season to begin.
“I have gotten faster. Last year, I had a shoulder injury and this year I am stronger,” she said. “I am excited to start competing in races.”
Senior captain Talitha Aban is another swimmer expected to turn in a solid performance.
“I expect Talitha to pick up right where she left off last year (Aban advanced to districts),” Braun said. “She will be further along in all of her events.”
He hopes one of the relay squads (200M free relay or 400M free relay) will advance to the Class 4A state tournament at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
“We haven’t had a relay team go to state in the last 17 years even though we broke the school record in the 200M relay last year,” he said. “I think we will have a good shot at getting one of our relays to qualify for state.”
Aban agreed with Braun’s assessment.
“Our relay team was pretty close to going to state last year,” she said. “We broke the school record (in the 200M relay in 2006) and if we can go to state it would be a really big accomplishment for the school.”
The Vikings swimming program has come a long way since her freshman year, Aban said.
“This is the biggest team we’ve ever had. When I was a freshman we only had about 20 people on the team. The program has grown a lot over the years.”
The Vikings swim squad is hosting a car wash fund raiser at the Kingston Albertsons from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.