EAST BREMERTON — What’s it take to put on one of the best league meets of the boys swimming season?
A defending state champion, an up-and-coming underdog, 21 state qualifying times and multiple lifetimes best.
All of it was on display Thursday at the Olympic Aquatic Center between the Kingston Buccaneers and Olympic Trojans. The defending state champion Buccaneers won 106.5 to 69.5 but no one leaving after would have thought the score was lopsided based on what they saw in the pool.
“This was a big meet for us,” Kingston’s Ethan Fox said. “It was fun to just race.”
Many of the swimmers from Olympic and Kingston are club teammates throughout the year, even during the high school season, but they didn’t share information with each other this week.
“There were a couple people playing cat-and-mouse games with each other out there,” said Kingston coach Mark Van Huis. “I love it. That’s what I love about high school swimming. It’s all about the racing.”
Olympic coach Paul Henderson said he and Van Huis were texting the night before about the meet and how excited they were to see what would happen. Henderson knew the Trojans would be underdogs but juggled around his lineup to give his team its best chance.
“No matter what happens I’m looking for best times,” he said. “I’m looking for great swims, great competition. We got a great race.”
It was the first loss of the season for Olympic, which is now 4-1 in league and overall. Kingston improved to 4-0 (4-1 overall). Kingston finished with 11 state times to 10 for Olympic.
Trojan freshman Dietrich Meyer gave Oly its first win of the meet when he claimed the 50 freestyle in one of the closest races of the day. Meyer and Kingston’s Aron Markow raced for the wall with Meyer coming out on top in 22.62 seconds to 22.65 by Markow.
“That was pretty cool (it) hyped people up,” said Olympic’s Haakon Meyer, Dietrich’s older brother.
Haakon Meyer provided some sparks for the Trojans by winning the 100 butterfly in 55.17 seconds over Bryce Hoffer of Kingston in 58.81.
Dietrich Meyer and Kingston’s Fox went stroke-for-stroke in the 100 freestyle as both made the final turn simultaneously and barreled toward the finish. Fox edged Meyer by a few hundredths of a second, 48.01 to 48.66.
Fox also had a great race in the 200 individual medley against Ross Burchell. Fox was ahead during the race and touched the wall in 1 minute, 57.48 seconds to Burchell’s 1:58.08.
Henderson said seeing veterans like Burchell come through with his best IM time was great.
“Another stroke and he catches the guy,” Henderson said.
Tim Gallagher was a double winner for the Buccaneers, claiming victories in the 200 freestyle and 500 free.
In the 500, Gallagher kept pace with Oly’s Burchell as Burchell carried the lead through 450 yards. It was in the final turn and last 25 yards that Gallagher made his move and out-touched Burchell at the wall in 4:41.65 to 4:41.98.
“Tim he had a phenomenal 500 there,” Van Huis said. “Tim is one of the best instinctual racers I’ve seen. He knows what his abilities are. He sticks to his race plan. I could tell a couple times he was testing the waters to see where he was. He’s just a smart racer.”
Aron Markow and Quincy Walker picked up wins in the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke, respectively. The Buccaneers also won all three relays, but the Trojans’ 200 medley relay set the school record for the second time this season.
“Considering we’re not really used to that — we haven’t faced a lot of teams that put up this much of a fight — it was good to have that rush,” Fox said. “It was fun.”
Olympic assistant coach Patti Matthew noted most races were less than half a second apart and everyone had at least one lifetime best.
“One of the best high school meets I have ever seen, and I’ve been watching them for 33 years,” she said.