2014 prep girls swim preview
Bellevue’s Kim Williams, the owner of five state individual titles, returns for her final go-round fresh off a huge summer
Five swimmers to watch
Kim Williams, Bellevue, Sr.: The owner of five state individual titles returns for her final go-round fresh off a huge summer. Swimming for Bellevue Swim Club, Williams won Junior National titles in the 400 and 200 IM in Irvine, Calif., the first week of August. Williams set the 3A state-meet record in the 200 IM a year ago at 2:00.64, and is setting her sights on the overall state record of 1:58.23 .
Mackenna Briggs, Liberty (Issaquah), Sr.: A two-time state champion, Briggs won the 100 back as a freshman and the 100 butterfly title a year ago. She was second to Williams in the 200 IM as a junior. Briggs is ranked by collegeswimming.com as the No. 5 overall recruit in Washington. Liberty moved from 3A to 2A this season and Briggs should help her team contend for a top 4 finish in the team race.
Marley Cross, Garfield, Jr.: Burst onto the state sprint stage as a sophomore a year ago, winning the 4A 100 freestyle and finishing second in the 50 free. Cross is regarded as the No. 3 recruit in Washington for the class of 2016.
Cameron Smith, Seattle Prep, So.: The only girl in any classification to swim a sub-five-minute 500 freestyle at state a year ago, Smith won the 3A title in 4:55.46. She stuck with the distance races in her freshman campaign, finishing second to Columbia River senior Monica Bottelberghe in the 200 free.
Madison Pressler, Jackson, So.: The state 4A champion in the 200 free as a freshman a year ago, Pressler also placed fifth in the 100 back. Like Smith in 3A, Pressler’s early career success sets her up for a run at seven individual state titles — the benchmark Williams looks to achieve as a senior this season.
Five teams to watch
Newport: The two-time defending 4A champs haven’t finished outside the top seven in four years. Prior to winning the past two state team titles, Newport finished seventh in 2011 and second in 2010. The Knights are deep, and have at least one rising star in junior Elisa Fang, considered by collegeswimming.com as a Top 2 recruit in Washington for the class of 2016. Fang placed fourth in her two individual events as a sophomore — the 50 free and 100 back.
Mercer Island: Quite simply, the Islanders have owned the 3A ranks for the past half-decade. Mercer Island has won the last five state team titles, though Lakeside was as close as any runner-up has gotten over the stretch a year ago, losing 296-279. Still, the Islanders’ numbers are always difficult to overcome in a state meet setting. When the sheer volume of state qualifiers is supplemented with rising stars such as Top 10 recruit Leah Fisk — who was third in the 200 and 500 freestyles a year ago as a junior — Mercer Island again will be a favorite come November.
Lakeside: The Lions came within 17 points of dethroning perennial champ Mercer Island last November. Lakeside returns a ton, including state placers Addie Chambers, a senior, and juniors Hannah Shabb and Helen Teegan. And, the Lions will have the benefit of a full season to prepare for the districts, regional and state meet for the first time ever as the Metro splits the boys and girls league campaigns into their traditional seasons.
Bainbridge: For years, Bainbridge chose not to compete in the regular season for the Metro League because the boys and girls ran concurrently during the winter sports cycle. Bainbridge chose to swim a full fall schedule so as to have more than the three weeks of preparation Metro granted its girls programs to get ready for the postseason. The decision resulted in three straight second-place team finishes from 2010 to 2012 and a third a year ago. Can Bainbridge rise further now that the Metro girls league campaign has been moved back to the fall?
Lake Washington: The Kangaroos won the 2A title in 2012, and followed up that finish with a Top 5 placing a year ago. Lake Washington returns Nadia Popovici, the state diving champ as a sophomore a year ago, and double fourth-place finisher Gabrielle Rector, another junior. Rector earned her fourths in the 200 free and 100 back. The Kangaroos moved from 2A to 3A.
League meets: Week of Oct. 27.
District meets: Nov. 7-8.
State meets: Nov. 14-15 at King County Aquatics Center.
— Doug Drowley