Bainbridge's Emily Silver, Helen Silver, Greg Colby and North Kitsap's Kristin Kane were inducted Saturday
FEDERAL WAY — It’s been more than 16 years since Bainbridge standouts Emily Silver, Helen Silver and their former girls swimming coach Greg Colby walked the pool deck at the King County Aquatics Center winning state titles and dominating girls high school 3A state swimming.
But the friendship, respect and love the trio shared then couldn’t be overlooked last Saturday when they were inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame class of 2019.
The trio weren’t the only Kitsap alums to be inducted by WISCA. Former North Kitsap diver and Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame inductee Kristin Kane was inducted as well. Kane won three state titles on the 1-meter springboard and broke the state record in 1987 with 346.8 points and did it again in 1989 with 423 points. Kane, a valedictorian at North, went on to dive for Indiana where she was a four-year All-American and a two-time Big Ten diver of the year. She also represented Team USA at the Pan-American Games in 1994.
“Unbelievably special,” Emily Silver said after the ceremony before the start of the 3A state meet. Silver was on hand along with Colby to accept her and her sisters’ induction. Helen Silver, a registered nurse at Harbor View in Seattle, was unable to attend the event. “There really are no words to describe the …” Silver said, having to stop to collect herself as she was overcome with emotions.
“I never really thought of myself as Hall of Fame material, to be honest,” Colby said. “I just loved doing what I was doing and I did it for a long time.”
Emily Silver said Colby was a big part of her success.
“He always believed in me,” she said.
“I had the honor of having her in my classroom, my middle school classroom a couple of times to talk about her Olympic experience,” Colby said. “The event was called Inspire and that’s exactly what she did was inspire other kids.”
Helen Silver set the precedent for her little sister but was an outstanding backstroker in her own right. She won three straight titles and set two state records, from 1999-2001. Each season Silver finished among the top 20 in the nation and went on to earn a scholarship to swim at the University of California Berkeley. While at Cal, Helen Silver won the 100-meter backstroke at the 2005 U.S. Summer Nationals and an NCAA championship in 2006 in the 200-yard backstroke.
Emily Silver, who currently resides in Port Townsend and works as a yoga instructor and in marketing, joined her sister for one season at Bainbridge and helped the Spartans win the 3A state team title her freshman season. By the time she graduated, Silver was one of the most decorated swimmers in Washington state history. Silver became the first swimmer, male or female, to win the same two events four straight seasons, the 50 and 100-yard freestyles. She broke the 50-free record three straight years and the 100 free once.
Silver also was a National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association All-American in high school and after followed in her sister’s footsteps and swam for California under head coach Teri McKeever. Silver was named an All-American 20 times as a collegian and went on to overcome several hand injuries leading up to the 2008 Olympic trials to claim a spot on Team USA. Silver had broken her hand while coming in hard to the wall before the trials and, once making the team, had to swim a time trial at the team camp to ensure the coaching staff she could compete in the freestyle relay.
Silver not only swam the 100 meters with her teammates cheering her on but she finished with a best time. She swam in the preliminaries of the 400 free relay and earned a silver medal.
Colby’s swimming success started when he swam collegiately at Wisconsin where he specialized in the individual medley and butterfly events. He competed for the Boise, Idaho, YMCA and was previously inducted into its Hall of Fame.
While at Bainbridge, Colby led the girls program for 24 seasons and won four state team championships, earned 13 second-place trophies and was among the top four 22 times. His teams never placed lower than seventh during his tenure.
Of the countless swimmers he coached, Colby had 23 individual state title winners and 26 NISCA All-American swimmers. He also guided the Spartans to 21 state relay titles and was named the WISCA Coach of the Year five times. Colby also assisted with the boys program at Bainbridge for 15 years and is currently the interim head coach at the College of Idaho in Rexburg.
Also inducted into the WISCA HOF was dive coach, Liz Litsch of Gig Harbor and coached 30 years for GH and Peninsula and retired in 2015; Rebecca Sturdy, a three-time state title winner in the butterfly and swam at Texas A & M, Annika Giesbrecht, a diving champion and was the only diver to win four straight titles for Mercer Island.