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Senior soaring through the air and water
by MATTHEW NASH
It doesn’t matter if by air or in the water, Sequim senior Kiano Stoppani gets to his goals.
The 17-year-old Wolves swimmer has risen above to become one of the better freestyle swimmers for the Sequim squad this year. His biggest goal this season has been to qualify for the Olympic Meet in Port Angeles on Tuesday as a freestyle swimmer.
While he didn't qualify individually, Stoppani did qualify for districts with the 200 yard freestyle relay team.
He also recently achieved another dream of his since he was a middle schooler, earning his pilot’s license.
“I was born in England and have been flying back and forth my whole life,” Stoppani said.
He’s the first in his family to achieve the feat, which he did by flying for 40 hours with an instructor at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles.
“Everyone in my family is impressed,” he joked.
Stoppani said his goal is to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot.
“I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk job,” he said. “You keep hearing that you’ll be doing that same job for 60 years. So, I wanted to do a job that I will love.”
Between swimming and flying, Stoppani takes classes through Peninsula College’s Running Start.
He said his biggest shot at making districts involves getting enough sleep after studying for Spanish, history and philosophy.
“For the most part it works out well,” he said of the balance.
After high school, Stoppani plans to attend Utah State University in Logan, Utah, for its aviation program. He wants to join a club swimming team, too.
This year, Stoppani was one of 11 seniors to compete for Sequim.
He started swimming competitively as a freshman but found a steep learning curve.
“I could swim but I could only do a lap before getting exhausted,” Stoppani said. “But here I am today.”
Stoppani has since strengthened his abilities and signed on as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at SARC.
Swimming coach Linda Moats said Stoppani has excelled at freestyle and flip turns.
“When he first started he couldn’t do a flip turn to save his life but now he’s one of the best,” Moats said.
“Flip turns are difficult because most kids feel disoriented. It takes a lot of focus and gets water up your nose those first few times. Lately he’s been amazing and making nice compact turns,” Moats said. “He’s a great example for the younger swimmers.”
Throughout the season, Stoppani has continued to decrease his times in the 100 and 200 freestyle while eying his districts qualifying time.
Moats typically has swimmers try each event once during the year and through his four years, Stoppani has improved considerably.
“I think he’s going to finish very well,” Moats said.
“(Over his four years) he’s caught up on all his strokes and is really motivated to finish well.”
As for his chances on going far in the districts, Stoppani said it’s mind over matter.
“You just think you can do it and you just have to be more assertive,” he said.