BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — In this instance size really did matter for the Bainbridge boys swim team.
The Spartans were able to use their depth to their advantage as they beat the Kingston Buccaneers 118-65 in a nonleague meet Thursday afternoon at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center.
The meet was a historic one for Kitsap County.
It featured the defending Class 3A state champions, Bainbridge, and the defending 2A state titleholders, Kingston, in a meet for bragging rights and brotherly rivalry.
It’s the first time in county history, certainly for swimming and likely for any sport, two teams competed against each other coming off championship seasons.
Both teams were aware of the significance of the meet.
“I know a lot of the other people from (Kingston), and it was fun to have a dual meet against them,” said Bainbridge junior Makai Ingalls. “They pushed us a lot harder than we usually get at dual meets.”
Fans of both teams lined up on their respective side of the pool deck to cheer on their teams.
Bainbridge coach Kaycee Taylor said it’s a cool thing for Kitsap.
“It shows the rest of the state what’s happening on this side of the water,” he said. “Yeah, you don’t go ‘Oh well Nathan Adrian how great it was back in the day.’ It’s like we continue to have that going with all of our swimmers.”
Taylor said he and Kingston coach Mark VanHuis are already talking about making the dual meet an annual tradition.
“I don’t know any reason why not to,” he said.
Swimmers on both teams compete against each other regularly in club swimming for Bainbridge Island Swim Club and the Poulsbo Piranhas. Several of them from Bainbridge and Kingston returned from last week’s U.S. Junior Nationals West meet in Iowa City, Iowa, where BISC’s 400 medley finished fifth in the nation.
Taylor said he wasn’t surprised by how well his top guys performed, but he was especially pleased with his district-level swimmers who are showing marked improvement.
Jack Bullock is one of them. He swam the 500 free for the first time.
“To have a kid like that who has never trained for it, was nervous, scored varsity points and finished fourth,” he said. “Those are the types of things that to me as a coach you love that.”
Kingston junior Aron Markow has ties to both high school and club teams. Markow swam at Bainbridge his freshman season and sat out last season when he transferred.
“It was fun,” Markow said, “we were all trying to do our best, and I think Bainbridge is significantly bigger than our team.”
Markow said the meet came down to it being a marker for the first part of the season for the Buccaneers, who compete in the Olympic League.
“We just came here to have fun and see where we’re at in our season and measure our abilities,” he said.
Bainbridge’s 200 medley relay opened with a state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 38.32 seconds. It was Kingston’s Tim Gallagher and Markow going 1-2 in the 200 freestyle with Gallagher getting a state time of 1:42.52. The Buccaneers’ Ethan Fox followed with a state time in the 200 individual medley in 1:57.04.
Bainbridge’s Garrett Waite claimed the 50 free in a state time of 21.68 and the Spartans, thanks to more swimmers in the events, held a 35-27 lead.
“We just wanted to come and just really try and swim fast and go for swims that they haven’t done yet this season,” said Kingston coach VanHuis. “Really just compete and have fun racing. That’s what we wanted to do.”
The Buccaneers qualified eight new state times (24 for the season) and set five school records, VanHuis said.
Kingston didn’t compete in the diving, and that gave Kiernan Liberman, Brian Taylor, and Guy Weibel a sweep of the points for the Metro-League Spartans and a more significant lead.
Gallagher picked up his second win of the meet for Kingston in the 100 butterfly in 52.37 while Jude Wenker and Ingalls went 1-2 in the 100 freestyle for Bainbridge. Both were state times in a team battle that came down to a few hundredths of a second — 47.57 to 47.70.
The 200 free relay turned out to be the highlight of the meet.
Kington’s Quincy Walker gave the Bucs the lead on the leadoff leg as the race stayed close with Ingalls and Gallagher matching each other stroke for stroke in the final few yards. Ingalls touched the wall in 1:30.04 to edge Gallagher’s Buccaneers in 1:30.22. Both were state times.
“Relays are always really tight,” Ingalls said, “especially when all of us are around the same speed and so it’s fun to battle it out.”
Waite snagged his second win in the 100 backstroke as he and Fox both registered state times, 52.17 for Waite and 54.74 for Fox.
Ingalls won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.44, yes, in another state time and that led to the final event of the meet — the 400 free relay.
Kingston’s foursome of Gallagher, Bryce Hoffer, Walker and Markow poured on the speed and outdistanced the Spartans to win in 3:20.10. Bainbridge finished in 3:24.66 as both teams qualified for state.
And it’s the state meet that is on everyone’s minds as the second half of the season will soon kick into high gear.
“Winter break we usually go through some pretty tough training,” Markow said. “After winter break we should be good for state.”
VanHuis said a lot of the Bucs swimmers are right at their best times from last season.
“That’s a good litmus test for where we are,” he said. “I think the second half of the season is going to be awesome.”