The Steilacoom High School (SHS) Boys’ Swim and Dive Team won its very first District Swim and Dive Championship on February 8 and 9 at Hazen High School in Renton, Wash.
“This has been a spectacular season for our boys team this year,” remarked Steilacoom High School swim coach Kathy Casey.
“We have the potential to score really well at the state meet this weekend. We could end up as one of the top 10 teams in the state,” she added.
During the district meet last weekend, SHS took first place in the 200 medley relay and broke the school record again with Ben and James Scott, Andrew Gonzalez, and Andrew Lamb. The Sentinels took first place and a meet record in the 200 Individual Medley, with freshman James Scott dropping 5 seconds off his life-time best time. The team also took first place in diving, with Ryan Shipes earning 340 points and breaking his school record.
Adding to this list, junior Ben Scott took first place in the 100 free, and in the 100 back. Scott led the field by 4 seconds. James Scott took first place in the 100 breaststroke, dropping two seconds off his life-time best time and breaking his school record. Andrew Lamb, Andrew Gonzalez, and James and Ben Scott took first place in the 400 free relay, for a total of seven district champions out of 12 events.
Sophomore Andrew Gonzalez placed second in the 100 fly with a 2-second drop off his season-best time, and placed third with two best-ever times in the prelims and finals of the 50 free.
In the 200 free relay, Daniel Cook, Drew Marchant, Ryan Shipes, and Andrew Clift placed fifth and earned a berth at state.
“For the first time in school history all three relays are going to the state meet,” said Casey.
Senior Andrew Clift placed third in the 200 free in a life-time best time by 2 seconds for the second week in a row and fourth place in the 500 free after dropping a second off his best-ever time.
Junior Andrew Lamb placed sixth in the 100 free with a second off his best time and placed seventh in the 50 free with a .60 drop off his best time.
Kenan McIlhenny placed twelfth in diving and Daniel Cook placed tenth in the 100 fly. Other best times were: Sebastian Sandoval, a 4-second drop in the 200 IM and a 2-second drop in the 100 back; Michael Schoenberg, 2 seconds off his 100 back time; and Daniel Boyle, a half second off his 100 breaststroke time.
According to Casey, Steilacoom led the team scoring most of the way at Districts, but traded the lead with Lindbergh High School a couple of times.
“Prior to the last event, the 400 free relay, Steilacoom was ahead by 8 points. First place in a relay is 32 points, so the team championship depended on the last relay event. Steilacoom won the relay and the District Team Championship Award,” explained Casey.
As the team moves on to compete at the State Championship this weekend, there are a few Sentinel athletes to keep an eye on based on their performances this year. Among them are junior Benjamin Scott, who ranked first in the state in four events, and qualified for state in every event except breaststroke and diving.
“Benjamin qualified for the most events of any swimmer in the state,” remarked Casey. “His specialty is backstroke, but he is also outstanding in freestyle, butterfly and the individual medley,” she added.
Benjamin’s younger brother, freshman James Scott, is also excellent at the breaststroke and individual medley. Sophomore Andrew Gonzales shines in freestyle and in the butterfly, which he placed sixth at state in 2012.
Coach Casey said that junior Ryan Shipes, who competes on the diving board, has increased the accuracy, beauty and difficulty of his dives this year.
“He is a natural talent with no gymnastics or diving experience prior to high school, who quickly became a state-level diver.” Shipes placed seventh at state in 2012.
A total of 29 swimmers turned out for this year’s team, compared to just 18 last year. Coach Casey said that the 2012 London Summer Olympics inspired at least one of the boys to join the team.
“This team has broken or tied every school record, and we have a swimmer in every single event at state this year. I feel very fortunate to have these guys this year,” she said.
All Steilacoom swimmers who placed seventh and higher will be competing at the WIAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Championship at the King County Aquatics Center located in Federal Way, Wash. on Friday, Feb. 15 and Sat., February 16.