Girls swim preview: Core continues to deepen

SHS girls swim 2017 season preview

Head coach: Anita Benitez (seventh season)

2016 record: 4-3; 2A state highlights: 200 yard freestyle relay Sydnee Linnane, Jasmine Itti, Anna Miehe and Sonja Govertsen 11th (1:47.52); Govertsen 15th (26.59) 50 free; Meguire Vander Velde 24th (6.11.42) 500 free.

Returners: Sydnee Linnane (sr.), Annie Armstrong (sr.), Heidi Schmitt (jr.), Jasmine Itti (jr.), Kaitlyn Davis (sr.), Aubree Young (sr.), Madeline Patterson (jr.), Sydney Swanson (so.), Isa Benitez (so.), Meguire Vander Velde (so.), Sonja Govertsen (so.), Amanda Murphy (sr.)

Newcomers: Sarin Rees (jr.), Hailey Vettel-Raichle (fr.), Quinlynn Young (fr.), Sophia Barrett (sr.), Olivia Barrett (sr.), Paola Villegas (fr.), Chloe McKay (fr.), Claire Cronin (fr.), Eilynn Flood (fr.), Astrid Martin (sr.), Aleah Chen (fr.), Irene Stello

The core continues to grow for Sequim’s girls’ swim team.

Led by co-captains Sydnee Linnane and Annabelle Armstrong, SHS swimmers and coaches expect bigger results this season.

Last year, eight Sequim girls competed at the West Central Districts tournament with seven swimmers qualifying for the 2A state swim meet. Sequim took 22nd overall and saw its 200 yard free relay team set a personal best with a 1:47.52 finish. Three of the four swimmers return, including Linnane, Jasmine Itti and Sonja Govertsen.

Linnane said getting the school record in the event is a possibility if the team can drop about 1 second each from their legs.

As a whole, Sequim captains see a lot of swimmers improving daily.

“A lot of us are doing just as good if not better than our times at the end of last year,” Linnane said.

Armstrong said she finds there’s a good ratio of new and long-time swimmers coming out for the team.

“This year we have a really good energy,” she said.

Head coach Anita Benitez returns for her seventh season and says she expects the team to continue performing well in relays while adding to their total of state qualifiers.

“Girls are coming in ready to go this season,” she said. “Workouts are a lot more challenging than last season, too.”

Benitez said that, along with last year’s state qualifiers, Heidi Schmitt and Sydney Swanson are all strong candidates to make the season-ending meet.

This season, Benitez adds seasoned assistant coach Robert Pease after long-time assistant Mark Pincikowski moved. Pease has 50 years of coaching experience, including 16 years at the University of Missouri and eight years for his Olympia club team.

“(Benitez) has a responsible program for the kids,” he said. “Kids move on as they’re ready.”

Timing system

For the third year, Sequim won’t host a diving team, but it does move up in the technology ranks.

Led by support from the YMCA of the Olympic Peninsula, community members and the team’s boosters, enough funding was compiled to purchase an aquatic timing system.

The system uses six touch pads linked to a scoreboard rather than using multiple volunteers with stopwatches.

Prior to the purchase, the YMCA of Sequim was the only facility in the Olympic League without a touch pad.

Michelle Govertsen, a booster parent, said a majority of the funding came from the YMCA followed by the Sequim Noon Rotary at $4,500, the boosters $2,700, master swimmer Eric Ellefson at $1,500, and the Sequim Sunrise Rotary at $1,000.

Sonja Govertsen previously said the touch pads will be essential in faster races like the 50 freestyle because “when you’re trying to get that state time, you really want that accuracy.”

Armstrong said it makes Sequim’s pool feel more official and professional.

“It feels like we’re on a new level,” she said.

Sequim’s girls swim team opens its season Tuesday, Sept. 12, at home (the YMCA of Sequim) versus Port Townsend, followed by four consecutive home meets on Thursdays, Sept. 14-Oct. 5.

New assistant coach Robert Pease speaks with newer swimmers on Sequim’s girls team about technique at a practice in the YMCA of Sequim. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

New assistant coach Robert Pease speaks with newer swimmers on Sequim’s girls team about technique at a practice in the YMCA of Sequim. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash