Sports

Fall Sports Preview: Oak Harbor swimming

"With some talented seniors returning and a bigger turnout than he can remember, Oak Harbor High School girls swim team coach Patrick Stewart has reason to be optimistic this fall. We have a lot of people back from last year and we'll have 25 to 26 swimmers this year, Stewart said. For the last three years we only had 18 girls.Maybe that's why Stewart is hoping the Wildcats will be among the top two teams in the district this season.Or maybe it's because of promise shown by senior and team captain Chauntelle Johnson.For last couple of years, Chauntelle's done really well at state, fourth in the 50 (meter) and third in 100 last year at state, Stewart said.Or maybe it's the presence of sophomore Kyla Meuer, who swam her way to a first place finish at state last year in the 100-meter freestyle and second place in the 50 freestyle.Those two I expect a lot out of, Stewart said.Stewart has similar expectations for senior Amanda Birr.She'll be strong in the 100-breaststroke, as well relays, Stewart said.Senior Shelly Cook, Stewart said, swam in ever relay race at state last year.Moreover, the talent and potential on the Wildcat swim team isn't limited to the senior class, Stewart said.Junior Brandy Rupert was also a qualifier in relays at state last year.Mix in the 20 or so other girls who are vying for places in the fast lanes and Stewart's optimism sounds more like pragmatism. Overall, we should have a pretty good team, he said.So where, he's asked, will the team make the most waves?Definitely in the freestyle, Stewart replied, What with having a couple of the top girls in the state last year returning. And good in the butterfly.The Wildcat swimmers will need its large talent pool this year, according to their coach, as the competition will be making some waves of its own. Snohomish is tough, Stewart said. They won state the last two years and this year they're expected to be even better. And Sehome is always tough, as is Shorewood and Edmonds-Woodway.Then again, the Wildcat swimmers are pretty tough competitors themselves, Stewart said. Tough and talented. "

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