Youthful SK squad planning to make a splash at state

State is difficult enough even for the most talented competitors.

South Kitsap boys swim and dive coach Tami Lester-Dame said her team has talent, but its youth will be difficult to overcome in Federal Way.

After all, the Wolves have three sophomores — Brandon Dravis, Taylor Rousell and Justin Slezak — competing at today’s Class 4A swim and dive state championships at the King County Aquatic Center. Danny DeRego, Zack Joachim and Brandon Lester are juniors, while divers Justin Gleason and Michael Haire are seniors.

Unlike many sports, there’s a bye week between districts and state — at least for the Wolves.

Lester-Dame said the extra week allowed her team to practice hard at first and then go a little lighter this week to keep their bodies fresh.

“When you’ve been swimming since whenever, you would think they would have the technique down,” Lester-Dame said. “But you can always remind them of the little things, like not to breathe off their turns.”

The preparation ended with a planned practice Thursday at the aquatic center.

“I think we’re in a good position,” Lester-Dame said. “I think the kids are ready and I just hope they show me. I hope they realize this is it.”

None of South’s swimmers are ranked in the top eight in their individual events, which means it could be difficult for the Wolves to place in the finals. The top eight compete in the finals, while the next eight race in the consolation finals. Rousell, whose seed time of 22.41 seconds places him 10th in the 50-yard freestyle, is the closest. He also will compete in the 100 butterfly and the relays.

Dravis and Slezak also appear to be in position to at least make the consolation finals. Slezak’s seed time of 1 minute, 3.71 seconds, places him 13th in the 100 breaststoke, while Dravis is 15th in the 100 backstroke at 56.97.

DeRego qualified as the 24th seed in the 200 freestyle at 1:55.35.

“I’m really excited because this is the first time I’ve made it as an individual,” he said.

The Wolves also are seeded 13th in the 200 medley relay at 1:45.54, 20th in the 400 freestyle relay at 3:32.4 and 21st in the 200 freestyle relay at 1:36.32.

Lester-Dame said she thinks all three South relay teams can end up in the consolation finals.

“I’m looking to go nowhere but up,” she said, adding that she feels only Rousell in the 50 freestyle and the 200 medley relay swam well at the Feb. 2-3 district meet at Rogers High School in Puyallup.

The state meet is slated to resume at 5:30 p.m. today.

South Kitsap swimmers and divers at state

Danny DeRego (200 freestyle, relays)

Brandon Dravis (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, relays)

Justin Gleason (diving)

Michael Haire (diving)

Zack Joachim (relays)

Brandon Lester (relays)

Taylor Rousell (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, relays)

Justin Slezak (100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, relays)