Individuals shine at PNS championships | NWAC

NWAC 11/12 relay members (from left) Taliah Black, Olivia Tungate, Jillian Pape and Kelly Huffer set four team records at the PNS Championships. - Photo courtesy of Neil Romney
NWAC 11/12 relay members (from left) Taliah Black, Olivia Tungate, Jillian Pape and Kelly Huffer set four team records at the PNS Championships.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Neil Romney

Behind a handful of strong individual performances, the North Whidbey Aquatic Club placed 12th at the 50-team Pacific Northwest Swim Championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way July 26 to 29.

Federal Way's King Aquatic Club won the team title with 5,356 points; NWAC earned 769 in a meet that featured Western Washington's top 1,000 swimmers.

NWAC coach Neil Romney said, "We had a great meet; it was very pleasing to see."

Romney said his Aquajets recorded 80 percent personal records in the finals, the best percentage in the history of the program. He added, "We were lucky if we got 50 percent in the past."

Romney said his team "rose to the level of the competition" as the Aquajets also posted their best-ever PR effort (93 percent) in the relays.

In addition, NWAC swam to 70 percent PRs in the prelims.

He was particularly pleased that on Sunday night, the last session of the fourth day "when many athletes are tired and lagging," his team recorded 100 percent personal records in relays and 91 percent in individual events.

Olivia Tungate, 11, one of youngest swimmers in the 11/12 division, reached the finals in all eight of her swims and clocked PRs in all eight preliminaries and six finals. She finished third in two events and earned national-level times in five. Her times in the two third-place finishes (400 individual medley, 5:35.26; 200 butterfly, 2:36.5) are the eighth and ninth best, respectively, in the nation.

These efforts earned her the NWAC Swimmer of the Meet award.

"Pound for pound," Romney said, "you are not going to find as strong a swimmer. It was as strong a meet performance as I have seen."

Kelly Huffer won the 11/12 1,500 (18:54.38) and swam 100 percent PRs in eight events.

Taliah Black finished second in the 50 breaststroke (38.26) with a "dramatic improvement," according to Romney. She finished ahead of many girls who entered the meet with better qualifying times.

Tungate, Huffer and Black joined Jillian Pape to grab four top-eight finishes in relays, including a third in the 400 medley while smashing the team record by 12 seconds (5:05.89). They set three other team records (fourth, 400 free, 4:33.65; fourth, 200 free, 2:04.63; sixth, 200 medley, 2:20.04) and won the NWAC BigRelay honor.

Laura Rosen finished third in the 200 freestyle while reaching the finals in each of her races. Along the way she recorded 100 percent PRs and one national-qualifying time (200 fly, 2:18.74).

Romney said it is difficult for Rosen to PR because "she has been swimming at such a high level for so long."

NWAC veteran Ciara Hu placed fifth in the 200 butterfly.

Other top eight finishes were scored by Jerrin Concepcion and Kenneth Morrow.

Also scoring team points were Emily Huffer, Price Hu, Josh Jepsen, Marissa Morris, Bruce Vagt, Molly Vagt and Cole Weinstein.

Team records were set by Kelly Huffer, Emily Huffer, Morrow, Rosen and Ciara Hu, as well as the girls 11/12 relay team.

Posting 100 percent PRs in finals were Black, Kelly Huffer, Morris, Rosen, Tungate and Molly Vagt.

In the prelims, 100 percent PRs came from Black, Kelly Huffer, Michael Johnson, Tungate, Brett Vagt, Bruce Vagt and Molly Vagt.

In the relays, Taliah Black, Concepcion, Kelly Huffer, Price Hu, Pape, Tungate, Brett Vagt, Weinstein, Jepsen and Lawrence Zapanta clocked 100 percent PRs.

In the high-point race, Rosen finished third in her division, Kelly Huffer fourth, Ciara Hu fifth and Tungate sixth.

Other highlights: national top-25 times, Tungate, Kelly Huffer; zone time, Tungate; senior sectionals, Kelly Huffer, Jepsen, Weinstein; scholastic all-America, Ciara Hu; and winter junior nationals, Rosen.

Team awards: helper, Bruce Vagt; spirit, Tungate; sportsmanship, Kelly Huffer.

The PNS Championships wrapped up the competitive season for most of the NWAC athletes. The next team event is the New Year’s Eve Anacortes Pentathlon Dec. 31 at the Fidalgo Pool.

Swimming for the Pacific Northwest team, Kelly and Emily Huffer will participate in the North American Challenge Cup Aug. 2 to 5 in Edmonton, Alberta, and Concepcion at the Western Zone Championships Aug. 7 to 11 in Grand Junction, Colo.

The North Whidbey Aquatic Club is a competitive swimming program of the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District. It includes swimmers of all abilities and ages from 6 through college.

Tryouts occur Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the city pool from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. New swimmers should be able to swim a length of the pool in freestyle and backstroke. The first two weeks are free.

For more information, please call the pool (675-7665) to speak with head coach Neil Romney or view the team’s website at


















Laura Rosen swims to a personal best at the PNS championships last week.



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