James Richardson’s face beamed with pride as he stood atop the victory podium each time. The Mercer Island High senior swimmer’s grin was a mile wide as the first-place medals clung around his neck.
First the 100 butterfly and then the 100 backstroke — and later he was bestowed with the honor of 3A state swimmer of the meet on Feb. 16 at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way. It’s the second year in a row that he’s earned all three accolades.
His times of 48.55 in the 100 fly and 48.43 in the 100 back set meet records as the Islanders took second place in the team standings behind Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge led by eight points heading into the final event of the day, the 400 free relay, and clinched the team title, 414-400, by winning that race as Mercer took second.
MI’s Jake Headrick also earned first place in the 500 freestyle (4:36.56) as teammate Alex Edwards was close behind in second (4:37.33).
Following the meet, Richardson discussed his big day.
“Well, it’s always my coaches and my teammates. I couldn’t have made it on my own. It’s all them, they push me, they tell me what to do, I’m completely indebted to them,” he said.
Richardson was confident that he would do well each time he stepped up to the blocks and wanted to give his teammates full effort. He aimed for state records, but is satisfied with what he accomplished.
“I was just really excited just to show that I tried my hardest and I had done everything I could to be what I thought I could be,” he said.
Although they finished second to Bainbridge again, Richardson — who will swim at MIT next season — believes the Islanders are primed to notch a state team title in the coming years.
Other second-place finishes for the Islanders were Killian Riley in the 200 free (1:42.75); Edwards in the 200 IM (1:52.54); and the 200 medley relay (1:33.38), 200 free relay (1:25.72) and the aforementioned 400 free relay (3:06.62). The relays consisted of Richardson, Headrick, Edwards, Riley, Justin Robinson, Evan Hill and Ethan Schwartz.
Headrick reflected on his time at state and winning the 500 free this season: “Yesterday in prelims, it was little frustrating for me, didn’t quite go as fast as I wanted. So today, it was just all-out trying to own it from the beginning and I think I did that the best I could.”
Edwards was stoked to be swimming the 500 free with Headrick and teammate Kieran Watson, who took fourth in 4:44.78.
“I did most of it ‘cause I paced off of Jake. Honestly, we train for this a lot during the year,” he said.