By Sara J. Hebert
Special to the Reporter
Traditions say something about groups and families. They demonstrate values and interests and tell a story. For Mercer Island High School (MIHS) boys water polo, the annual lake swim event is both a highlight of preseason training week and a testament to the grit and personality of the sport and team.
If you drove, biked or walked across the Interstate 90 bridge early on Aug. 29, you may have seen the special event in action.
Weeks prior, dozens of parents and volunteers are organizing every detail to keep athletes safe and create high energy throughout. For the water polo players, this physically demanding event came at the heels of 21 preseason practices over eight days. If you’re thinking this sport is not for the faint of heart, you’re correct. During a regular game, athletes are constantly either swimming or treading water plus defending opponents, setting up plays and battling for position.
The lake swim and bridge run event involves an approximately 1.5-mile swim from Mercer Island’s Lakeside Park to Seattle’s South Day Street Park. When swimmers exit the water in Seattle, they arrive to cheers from enthusiastic parents but are mainly focused on finding their tennis shoes and hitting the pavement for a return 1.5-mile run back to Mercer Island across the I-90 bridge.
This year, 24 players entered the water, and all 24 successfully completed the swim and run. As runners reach the finish, the MIHS cheer squad adds high-vibe congratulations. The whole team is pumped up, with beaming faces, high fives and great camaraderie.
It’s inspiring to see each athlete rise to the challenge. Some returning players who as freshmen needed boat crew assistance, this year finished at the front of the pack. A third of the team members this year are new to the sport or the event. These novices delivered impressive performances, and some seem to have found their sweet spot and perhaps a new passion. One new athlete had never swum competitively or played water polo until this pre-season experience. While his times were slower than some, his smile and energy matched his impressive accomplishment.
MIHS is pleased to welcome Daniel Kavesh back to the community, this time as our new head coach. A MIHS water polo alum, Kavesh is a veteran of the lake swim tradition and proud of this year’s crew for great results. The MIHS boys water polo lake swim was 100% success.
We are grateful for the terrific support from our active community and are excited to begin the 2023 season with an all-day jamboree in Tacoma on Sept. 9.
The team extends special thanks to family and community supporters who sponsored athletes for the fundraiser portion of this event, and we invite everyone to join us for our first home game at Mercer Island Country Club at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 14. You can also follow all our season highlights on Instagram @MIHSBoysWaterPolo.