Aquatic club acheives first

In just a few days club swimmers from 12 western states will converge on the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way for the 2005 USA Swimming/Speedo Championships.

Among the hundreds who earned the right to participate are four swimmers from Oak Harbor’s North Whidbey Aquatic Club: Jason Hunter, Kyle Ciminski, Evan Wilson and Zach Johnston.

“It’s real exciting for these guys,” NWAC coach Neil Romney said.

The four Oak Harbor swimmers are the first local male relay team to earn qualifying times to a Senior Sectional Meet — a regional event that proceeds the USA National Championships.

The Oak Harbor quartet qualified for the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays in December at the Husky Swim Meet and qualified for the 400 free, 800 free and 400 medley relays by composite times.

“We got the right guys in the right age group and it came together pretty well,” Wilson said.

Not only is the group of four the first local male relay team to advance, but in his second year as head coach, Romney thinks they could be the largest group of NWAC swimmers ever sent to a Senior Sectional Meet.

“As far as I know this is as many as they have ever had,” he said.

The meet, which acts as a warmup to Nationals for some swimmers and as a last chance to qualify for Nationals to others, is about as large as a swim meet gets in Washington.

“This is definitely the biggest meet I’ve ever been to,” Johnston said.

Hunter, a 2004 Oak Harbor High School graduate and two-time state swim meet participant, agreed it’s large, but feels he won’t be overwhelmed.

“It’s nice to go because it’s so big, but I don’t think I’ll be overly impressed with any meet until I go to the Olympics or Nationals,” he said.

Along with the five relay teams, Ciminski, Hunter and Wilson will also compete in individual races.

Ciminski is the lone swimmer to participate in a Senior Sectional event, entering as an alternate last year. He didn’t place, but this time around he has high aspirations.

“This year I want to try and place,” he said. “I’m going for Senior National cuts in the 100 breast and 100 fly.”

His closest time is in the 100 breaststroke, where his current best sits at 58.70 seconds. He needs a 56.29 to make a national cut.

“His ultimate goal is a national qualifying time, a sizable improvement for someone at his level,” Romney said. “He has amazed me many times in the past, however, so I would not count him out.”

Ciminski will also compete in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 breast and 200 individual medley.

Hunter will swim in the 100 fly and 200 fly, while Wilson will participate in 200 breast and 500 free.

“Our most immediate goal is best times on relays, including all individual splits and individual swims, both point-scoring events and time trials,” Romney said. “These athletes have trained diligently and are in a good position to do so.”

The 2005 USA Swimming/Speedo Championships begin Wednesday, March 9 and run through Sunday, March 14.

Club teams from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico will be on hand.

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