Islander swim edges Snohomish

By Matt Phelps

The Islander boys swim and dive team hit the waters of Mary Wayte Pool against Snohomish High School Friday in a preseason battle between two of the best teams in the state. Mercer Island came way with the tightest of victories 94-92 as a talented class of freshman made their debut.

The meet began with the diving event. Freshman Beau Riebe lived up to the hype that has surrounded his middle school career, as he won the competition handily with 218.40 points. The meet record is 235.25.

``I just want to have as much fun as I can and make as many friends as possible,'' said Riebe. ``I just want this to be the best possible experience.''

Riebe finished ahead of a senior and a junior Panther. Islander Mike Camp took fourth with a score of 124.15 and Elliot Shanks finished fifth for the Islanders.

``It is kind of nice this year because we have a representative from every grade,'' said Camp, who has the most varsity experience.

Mercer Island swimmers gathered points from their depth, as the team had just four first-place finishes out of the 11 events.

Senior Tad Homchick showed why he is a team captain with two individual victories on the night. First Homchick qualified for state in his first attempt in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.07, beating two Snohomish swimmers to the wall. Islander seniors Ian Kaminski and Thomas Stowell placed fifth and sixth respectively with district times. If swimmers did not have at least district times during the meet, they did not place in most of the races.

Second, Homchick took first in the 100-yard butterfly by a half second. His time of 54.13 was, again, just enough to stay ahead of two Snohomish swimmers. Senior Ryan Young and freshman Kyle Shaeffer both placed during the event with district times.

``We are definitely prepared but there is a long way to go,'' said Homchick. ``This is just the first meet. It is exciting because we have most of the team back from last year.''

Freshman Murray Longbotham made a big impact in his debut, taking first in the 100-yard freestyle and qualified for the state meet with a time of 49.36. Stowell and Kaminski again placed with district times during the event. Longbotham also finished second in the 200-yard freestyle with a state time of 1:47.54.

The Islander 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Alex Hoff, junior Jay Voit, senior Adam Jacobson and Kaminski, qualified for state with a time of 1:45.32. Voit followed up the race with a second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley with a district time of 2:07.55. Hoff and fellow freshman Christopher Picardo also had district times during the race.

The atmosphere during all the races was charged with team camaraderie.

``This is just the third race of the meet and I already lost my voice,'' said Kaminski.

Picardo (5:21.39) finished behind junior Jeff Benca (5:06.42) in the 500-yard freestyle as both swimmers (second and third respectively), along with Collin George (fourth - 5:23.63) had district times.

The Islanders picked up another state time in the 200-yard freestyle relay as Longbotham, Kaminski, Stowell and Homchick took second, just .11 seconds behind the Snohomish team, with a time of 1:32.08. Homchick had the best individual time during the race as he cut a full second off the Panthers' lead. Both times beat the previous meet record set by Snohomish last year.

Freshman Alex Hoff earned his first state time of 57.97 in the 100-yard backstroke for the Islanders, but his competition pushed him to third place. Islanders George Stanton and Young placed fourth and fifth with district times.

The 100-yard breast stroke saw three Islanders, Voit, Dennis Wang and Inar Zhang earn district times.

Mercer Island picked up its final state time in the final race of the meet. Longbotham, Voit, Kaminski and Homchick teamed up to place second in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:20.83 as it took a meet record time of Snohomish to beat the Islanders.

At 3:30 p.m. the Islanders will travel to Boehm pool tomorrow to take on Issaquah in the first in-league dual meet of the year.

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