EAST BREMERTON — For the Meyer siblings, swimming is in their blood. Brothers Haakon, a junior, and freshmen twins Rainer and Dietrich are following in brothers’ Ries and Ziven’s footsteps — er, strokes?
Add to the Meyer trio two more brothers — Ross, a junior, and Ryan Burchell, a freshman — and Olympic boys swimming coach Paul Henderson is reaping the rewards of a successful Olympic League season.
Competitiveness between the two sets of brothers has driven Olympic into new heights.
The Trojans will put it all on the line Thursday when they face Kingston in a showdown of the two top teams. Kingston, the defending state 2A champions, and Trojans are both 4-0 and face off at 3:30 p.m. at the Olympic Aquatic Center.
Henderson is blessed to have such a contingent leading the way for the Trojans.
“They’re all great swimmers,” he said. “But they are very individual personality-wise.”
Ryan Burchell said the Trojans are doing well and they’re all looking forward to the meet against Kingston.
“I think having club swimmers on (the team) creates a really great, competitive environment,” he said. “I think we all really help each other.”
“It also helps the other swimmers,” Haakon added.
There’s plenty of action during practice as the Burchell’s and Meyer’s go head-to-head.
“I watch Dietrich and Ross just racing down the lane to the finish, and they’re both pushing each other, and they both want to win,” Henderson said. “It’s great competition right there in that pool during practice.”
All five swimmers have qualified in multiple events for the state meet in February at the King County Aquatic Center. The Burchell’s swim for the Poulsbo Piranhas Swim Team and head coach Jerry Johnson, while the Meyer’s are coached by Marilyn Grindrod of the Bremerton YMCA Swim Team.
The Meyer swimming gene doesn’t end with the boys. Little sister, Aziza, is the fastest of the bunch, Haakon said.
“She’s amazing. She’s in fifth grade and already she’s a second or two off the state times in all the events,” he said. “She’s the best out of all of us in terms of swimming by far.”
Henderson said he could tell right away the difference between Dietrich, Rainer, and Haakon.
“But in great ways,” he said. “They work hard, and they get what they put in.”
Dietrich’s a little bit quieter, a little more intense in the water. Rainer has the character of what he looks like — a laid-back surfer dude, Henderson said — while Haakon is a mixture of both.
“He’s kind of become more of an outspoken leader this year,” he added. “He wasn’t that in the past, and I don’t know if it’s the inspiration of his brothers, but it’s been cool to see that.”
Part of that might be his desire to be named a team captain next season, again taking the cue from his older brothers.
“Haakon is swimming so great this year,” Henderson said, adding he’s not sure if it’s because his brothers are with him and they push each other or having the Burchell’s in the water.
“We have great state competition right in the same water,” he said.
Dietrich admitted the desire to surpass his older brothers is there.
“Now instead of looking up to them and having them be way faster, now I’m at the point where they are,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.”
“It makes us want to try harder so we can get faster than them one day,” Rainer added.
“I really compare myself to him a lot, and I feel like sometimes it has a negative effect because he’s a lot faster than I am, but most of the time it motivates me to be better,” Ryan said of Ross.
That doesn’t mean the older brothers are going to just let that happen.
Ross said he finds it motivating to be pushed by his younger brother.
“It keeps me going to all the morning practices when I’m really tired and don’t want to go to them,” he said smiling.
The Burchell’s can be as different as night and day in terms of personality.
Ryan is a more outspoken and happy to talk your year off and make you laugh, while Ross is quieter and reserved.
Both are all business in the water.
Henderson said he will write the workouts on the whiteboard on the pool deck at OAC, and he always hopes the swimmers will follow it and give it their best without sliding by and not work hard.
“I don’t know if I’ve had anybody that works as hard as Ross does,” he said. “You say something, and he does it. It’s done. And it’s done better than you asked him to do it.”
Ryan picks up where Ross leaves off.
“And then you have Ryan who was immediately on his tail at practice,” Henderson said.
What Henderson might appreciate about the brothers more than anything is how genuinely excited they are when each does well.
“I love to see that brotherly love,” he said. “I think it’s one of those things down the road they’ll look back and go, ‘Man, we got to swim together in high school.’ It’s been great. It’s good for everybody.”