Originally published November 11, 2011 at 9:52 PM | Page modified November 12, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Kim Williams eyes showdown with champ | 3A, 2A Girls Swimming

The Bellevue freshman had the fastest qualifying time in the 200 IM, setting her up for a matchup with defending champ Grace Wold of Mercer Island in Saturday's finals.

Special to The Seattle Times

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FEDERAL WAY — Bellevue freshman Kim Williams earned an edge during the district swim meet a week ago. Friday morning during the preliminaries of the Class 3A girls swimming state championships, she took full advantage.

In entering the meet as the top qualifier for what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive events — the 200-yard individual medley — Williams got to swim the third and final prelim.

That meant she could watch the times of most of her competitors, including defending champ Grace Wold of Mercer Island, before entering the pool at the King County Aquatic Center.

"I like watching them first," said Williams, who posted the top qualifying time, 2 minutes, 7.68 seconds. Wold had the second-best time (2:09.24) and will swim in Lane 5 in the final, next to Williams in Lane 4.

The 3A finals start at 10 a.m. Saturday.

"I think it's going to be a really good race," Wold said of the 200 IM final. "I'm excited. Tomorrow, I'll be nervous. But I was really nervous last year, and it worked out well for me."

Williams already was feeling the nerves on Friday.

"A lot of people keeping saying, 'We want to see you guys race,'" Williams said. "Every time they do that, I get a little more nervous. My goal is not to win, though. It's just to have a good race. I love racing. Basically, that's why I'm in the sport."

Williams is one of two swimmer who enter Saturday's finals leading the way in two events. She also was the top qualifier in the 100 breaststroke at 1:05.61.

Columbia River sophomore Monica Bottelberghe will bring the best prelim time into the finals of the 100 free (51.68) and 200 free (1:53.56).

Meanwhile, Mercer Island continued to pile up finalists and consolation finalists in its effort to win a third consecutive team title. The Islanders placed 11 swimmers into the championship finals, plus all three relays. Mercer Island also will score points with a meet-high 15 consolation finalists.

But a three-peat is not a guarantee, at least for Islanders coach Chauntelle Johnson.

"Bainbridge is making it very difficult," Johnson said. "My girls feel good in the water. I am happy with the swims I am seeing out of us. But Bainbridge is good. A lot of people count them out, but I expect a very close meet."

The Spartans have 10 championship finalists plus three relays.

Wold is a finalist in two events for the Islanders. In addition to her second-best IM time, Wold swam the fastest prelim time in the 100 butterfly (57.53). That was .02 of a second faster than Bainbridge senior Tess Harpur's 57.55.

"I love the 100 fly," Wold said. "It's my favorite race."

While Wold was making no excuses for times Friday or her condition going into Saturday, the junior is still fighting off a cold that began with flu-like symptoms a week ago.

"I'll be ready to race," she said. "I'm a junior now. I feel much more confident with where I am. And my team is totally behind me."

Williams isn't completely healthy either. A back injury suffered 11 days ago in a P.E. class still bothers her, she said. But Williams knows she will need to go faster Saturday to dethrone Wold.

That might not be a problem, considering that Williams knew on Friday she didn't need to race all out after seeing what others had done in the previous 200 IM prelims.

"It wasn't like really easy," Williams said. "But it was just about 80 percent effort. I was just trying to get into the top three. I saw the girl that would have been in second was at a 2:10. I knew I just needed to be around there."

Williams, of course, did a little more than that. But she also was able to save something for the final.

Class 2A

• Interlake of Bellevue advanced all three of its relays into Saturday's finals, including the top prelim time of 3:47.97 in the 400 free relay. The Saints are in the running for a top-five team finish.

• Sumner got Madison Munger (200 free, 100 fly) and Sami Hendricks (50 free, 100 free) into the finals, along with two relays. Along with Sehome, the Spartans are positioned to put pressure on two-time defending champ Squalicum.

• Anacortes senior Katie Kaestner swam the top prelim times in the 100 free (52.37) and 100 breast (1:04.88).

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