For Kaleb Needoba, all the turns, the stops and starts and laps upon laps are starting to pay off.
The Sequim High junior broke a 13-year-old school record in the 500 free on Dec. 17, and two days later broke another school standard in the 200 free.
It didn’t come as a surprise to Needoba, a third-year swimmer for the Wolves.
“I felt it; I feel like I can break all of those,” Needoba said last week, referencing the wall of school and pool records posted at the YMCA of Sequim.
“Since I started freshman year I’ve worked each summer (to improve),” he said, crediting work with Masters swimmer/mentor Doug Winter.
While prep athletes don’t get any extra points for their team in setting school records, Needoba’s efforts helped fuel the Wolves’ push for their first win of the season on Dec. 17.
The Wolves got six first place swims — two from Needoba, one from senior Jordan Hurdlow and a sweep of the three relays — to top the host Bremerton Knights 82-78 on Dec. 17.
Needoba’s 500 free time of 5:34.89 was about a seven-second personal best and topped the mark of 5:35.54 set by R.C. Harasick in 2006.
Needoba added a win in the 200 individual medley (2:17). Both 500 and 200 IM efforts are district meet qualifiers.
Hurdlow won the 200 free in 2:28 with teammate David Melcer in second (2:32).
Earning second place finishes for the Wolves against Bremerton were Melcer in the 500 free (6:57), Deven Biehler in the 50 free (25.91), Zen Graham in the 100 butterfly (1:10) and Jesse Bobst in the 100 breaststroke (1:20).
Biehler, Graham, Needoba and William Plasch teamed up to edge Bremerton’s top 200 medley relay for a win with a mark just short of the 2-minute mark.
In the 200 free relay, Bobst, Graham, Plasch and Myles Tadlock combined for a 1:50 finish for first place, and Sequim’s 400 free relay team of Biehler, Graham, Needobs and Tadlock locked up the win with a first place mark of 3:58.
All three Sequim relay finishes were district meet qualifying times.
Two days later Needoba was at it again, touching the wall in the 200 free in 1:58.30 in the Wolves’ 94-54 loss to peninsula rival Port Angeles.
His mark bettered his previous best mark by more than one-and-a-half seconds, and once again broke a Harasick school record (1:59.22) set in 2006.
While his freestyle swims are strong, Needoba said he prefers other disciplines.
“I’m all over the map; I really like the 200 IM (individual medley) and the 100 fly,” he said.
“I think it (the 100 fly) is an extraordinary race,” Needoba said — for both its technical aspect as perhaps the most difficult stroke and the competition it inspires.
“I can feel the intensity — this last race (against Port Angeles) i could feel someone on my left and right,” he said. “I kind of feed off that energy. It’s awesome.”
The relatively small Sequim squad (nine competitors) managed to pick up three first-place finishes and four second-place efforts against the Roughriders, who saw 14 swimmers in action.
Needoba picked up a win in the 100 butterfly (59.38) while Graham won the 50 free in 26.16 (edging Alex Che by 0.12 of a second) and Bobst added a win the 100 breaststroke (1:17).
As in the meet versus Bremerton, each of Sequim’s relay squads posted district meet-qualifying marks.
Needoba finished second in the 200 free; in the same event, Biehler lowered his 200 free time to 2:12 and is a little more than a second off a district qualifying time.
Biehler added a season-best and district qualifier in the 100 free with a 56.91-second effort.
“I think the guys are swimming really well,” Sequim coach Britt Hemphill said. “To be 1-3 right now is good for us. I feel good where we are going into the break.”
Sequim is off for the holidays until Jan. 16, when they take on host North Kitsap in Poulsbo.
The Wolves host Klahowya on Jan. 23 and compete in the Divisional Invitational (Last Chance Meet) in Silverdale on Jan. 31.
The West Central District meet is set for Feb. 14 and 15 at Hazen High School in Renton.
Olympic League standings
Port Angeles 2-1
North Kitsap 2-1