Beach Club dominates Division II

By Matt Phelps

In its first year competing in the Division II level of the Midlakes swimming league, the Mercer Island Beach Club earned the right to move back to Division I with a fourth-place finish at the Midlakes championship meet Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

The top-five finish comes on the heels of winning the Division II dual meet championship with an undefeated season.

``This was just everyone working together as a team,'' said Mercer Island Beach Club swim coach Grant Garcia. ``We worked hard during practice and meets, but we had fun, too. I would not want to do this if they weren't having fun.''

The fun led to a dominating year that included many club-record swims and beating out two Division I teams during the championship meet.

``We just have good all-around swimmers,'' said Garcia. ``A lot of kids wanted to move back up to Division I and I think it was good motivation for the team.''

Even though the team has the option of moving back up, not all of the coaches want to make the jump up.

``I think that being in Division II has really made us realize that it is more of a team environment and we are just having a great time in Division II,'' said Mercer Island Beach Club swimmer and coach Tad Homchick. ``We may choose to stay here because it is more team oriented.''

At one point, Homchick broke off a conversation in mid sentence to high-five Garcia because one of the Beach Club swimmers placed higher than expected.

Six Beach Club swimmers finished individual race finals in the top five, twice, during the meet. Leading the way was Homchick and Chris Picardo, who each had a victory.

Picardo took first in the 13- and 14-year-old boys 500-yard freestyle (5:20.71) and second place in the 50-yard butterfly (26.97). Homchick took first in the 15-and-over 50-yard breaststroke (28.64) and second place in the 50-yard freestyle (22.04). Patrick Goodwin finished in third behind Homchick during the 50-yard freestyle (22.19).

One of the youngest swimmers on the team came up the biggest, as Sabrina Steinhauer took second in the 25-yard freestyle (15.85) and third in the 25-yard backstroke (19.26).

``All the people in here make me happy,'' said Steinhauer, who is 8 years old. ``I just like swimming a lot and it is really fun to swim in here.''

Grace Boos was just behind Steinhauer during the 25-yard freestyle (16.78) to take fourth place. Boos also finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle (39.64).

Beach Club swimmer Cody Hall took second in the 10-and-under 100-yard individual medley (1:23.41) and fourth in the 50-yard backstroke (38.62).

Jay Voit also had two top-five finishes. The first came in the boys 15-and-over 200-yard freestyle, taking third in a time of 1:56.37 and the second, came in the 100-yard individual medley with a fourth-place finish (1:00.21). Fellow Beach Club swimmer Adam Massmann took third in the 100-yard individual medley with a time of 59.06.

Will Voit took second in the boys 13- and 14-year-old 200-yard freestyle (2:04.32) as Ian Snyder, also of the Beach Club, took fifth (2:12.37).

The Beach Club had seven different relay teams finish in the top five of their respective events. During the girls 8-and-under 100-yard freestyle relay the Mercer Island Shore Club, Country Club and Beach Club finished one, two and three during the finals.

One of the biggest changes for the club during the offseason was the addition of former Mercer Island High School swimming coach Jeff Lowell as athletic director. It was an interesting change for some of the club coaches to have Lowell as their boss since he coached them at MIHS.

``He keeps us organized and relaxed,'' said Garcia. ``He is there to work and have fun, too.''

All three of the Beach Club coaches were swim captains for the Islander swim team under Lowell.

Complete finals results for Mercer Island swimmers from the Midlakes Championship meet can be found on A10 and A11.

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