Small Wolf pack out for fun

No divers, no assistant coaches, no regular pool and a roster boasting just four returning athletes.

And still, coach Linda Bingler is smiling and so are her young swimmers.

"The thing that's nicer about this," she says from poolside, "is that I get more one-on-ones with the kids."

More one-on-ones because the Wolves' regular pool, the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center, is closed for September - meaning Sequim is the visitor for the first three meets of the season. The team meets in a community member's indoor pool between Sequim and Port Angeles, one that's less than half the length of SARC's lanes.

More one-on-ones because Chuck Lamb, Bingler's assistant coach since the program started 11 years ago, decided to retire after the 2008-2009 season.

And more one-on-ones because the relatively low turnout for swimming - 10 swimmers, no divers - means Bingler couldn't have an assistant anyway. (With no divers, longtime coach Susan Craig also is not with the team.)

"I'll have a different approach at meets, but the kids should be doing their best," she says as her athletes pair off and carefully practice turns in the smaller pool space.

"You take what you get and do the best you can," Bingler says. "It's a fun group."

Back in the pool is junior Rachel Hardy, who qualified for the state 2A meet in the 50 and 100 free events and swam in the Wolves' state 200 free relay squad.

Joining her is Rachel Hughes, who qualified for the West Central District meet in the 500 free but may be strongest in the breaststroke and butterfly events, plus returnees Autumn Kessinger and Karlee Johnston.

Among the new swimmers, Bingler has a mix of upper and lower classmen. Rookie Ellie Hubbard may become a particularly strong butterfly swimmer and Anna Mittmann should excel in the breaststroke, the Sequim coach says.

Without any divers and with a host of new swimmers, Bingler figures the Wolves may not be able to challenge for wins in some of their meets, such as the Sept. 29 date with powerhouse Bainbridge. But against smaller teams like Port Townsend, this Wolves team may have a chance to earn a win or two, she says.

"We have to work hard on endurance and speed," Bingler says.

But isn't that hard in a small pool?

No, Bingler says, except that her swimmers don't get to do starts.

"We can do anything we do in a regular pool," she says. "We just have to figure out how many lengths (to swim)."

The Wolves kick off the season with the first of three road dates on Sept. 15 at Port Angeles. Sequim is at Klahowya (Silverdale) on Sept. 24 and Bainbridge before the first home meet, an Oct. 1 match-up with Port Townsend. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, the Wolves host five consecutive home meets.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

Preview: Sequim High Wolves girls swimming

2008 record: 4-4 in Olympic League, 5-4 overall; 3 individuals, 1 relay to state (team finished 17th)

Head coach: Linda Bingler (12th year)

Top returnees (top events): Rachel Hardy (jr., sprint freestyle, backstroke), Rachel Hughes (jr., breaststroke, butterfly), Karlee Johnston (jr., distance freestyle), Autumn Kessinger (so., backstroke)

Top newcomers: Hannah Apelt (so.), Anna Mittmann (fr.), Natalie McMurray (fr.), Ellie Hubbard (fr.), Victoria Rodger (sr.), Serena Okamoto (jr.)

Outlook: Low turnout has the Wolves in a rebuilding year. Expect two or three athletes to make it to districts and possibly the state meet, but this season is all about building to the future. Sequim needs help from brand new swimmers to compete each week.

Key dates: Sept. 15 at Port Angeles, Oct. 1 vs. Port Townsend, Oct. 29 at divisional meet, Nov. 6 at West Central District meet, Nov. 12 at state 2A meet

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