Micah Franklin, last year’s Most Valuable Swimmer, returns to pace the Wildcats this season. (Photo by John Fisken)

Micah Franklin, last year’s Most Valuable Swimmer, returns to pace the Wildcats this season. (Photo by John Fisken)

Winter prep preview / Oak Harbor swim and dive

The number of athletes turning out for the Oak Harbor High School swim and dive team is increasing, and with the rise should come more success.

The stability of the pool after a closure a year ago and the introduction of a middle school swim program should help the team be “strong contenders in the foreseeable future,” according to Wildcat coach John Chargualaf.

The expectation is to build the high school program into a state contender, he added.

The cornerstone for that foundation starts with this year’s returning letter winners: seniors James Fisher, Micah Franklin, Andrew Lof, Ethan Macaluso and Rylan Quiros; juniors Ryon Clemena, Cameron Hoppock, Samuel Noel, Riley Williamson and Lawrence Zapata; and sophomores John Blankman and Austin Hoppock.

Franklin was the team’s Most Valuable Swimmer last season.

“Our experienced swimmers have a chance to meet qualifying times for district and state in their individual events,” he said. “Our relay team will work towards qualifying times for state.”

For some of the new swimmers, the season will be a year of development as they prepare for the future, according to Chargualaf.

“We continue to build the swim program, and each season we see increased participation and interest,” Chargualaf said. “We continue to provide each swimmer with a lifelong sport, opportunity to build fitness (and) prepare for swimming beyond high school.”

Among the newcomers who can help the team this year is freshman Kyle Huang, who previously swam for the Richmond Rapids in British Columbia.

Others who could help fill out the lineup are seniors Ridgely Briddell, Austin Galletta and Michael Leckelt; juniors Jake Mitten, Tyler Mattson, Michael McCauley, Gage Powers and Kyle Guevera; sophomores Chandler Landolt, Charles Brooks, Ralph Ramier, Salvador Sanchez, Brandon Young, Daniel Brown, Jordan Fay and Aiden Golden; and freshmen Tyson Neal, Benjamin VonGrey and Benjamin Roll.

Oak Harbor opens the season at home with a 4 p.m. double dual meet with Glacier Peak and Snohomish Thursday, Dec. 12.