Richland High School’s girls swimming program has never won a state team title.
The 2012-13 team is determined to remedy that.
Led by seniors Nicole Weinman and Lisa Bratton, the Bombers won five events in Saturday’s Mukilteo Invitational to finish atop the standings with 457 points. Bainbridge was second, with 448, and Cascade, third, with 363.
The South Sound was shut out of the winners’ circle in a meet dominated by schools from Snohomish County and Eastern Washington. Marysville-Pilchuck, Cascade, Wenatchee and Bainbridge all won events.
“Our swimmers are performing well, but it’s not a meet we pointed to for resting,” said Richland co-coach Randy Willis. “We’re swimming through it. We needed to get over here and see what we could do on the west side of the state.”
Weinman, a University of Idaho recruit, won the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 55.94 seconds, and the 500 free in 5:10.95.
Bratton took the 200 individual medley in 2:04.97 and 100 backstroke in 57.15. Richland also won the 200 free relay in 1:41.67.
“It feels good,” Bratton said. “We’re a strong school this year and we can do a lot going forward.”
Bratton, the defending state champion in the 200 IM, advanced to the semifinals of the 200 backstroke at the Olympic Trials in June. Now she’s chasing a different accomplishment: qualifying for state in every event during her final year at Richland. Midway through the season, she only has two left to conquer.
That means treating every race as strictly business.
“I knew I had to go out there with my game face on and race them to the wall – and I did,” she said.
Cascade senior Kalena Laurent, who won the 100 free in 53.70, a personal record, said that facing unfamiliar competition gave her a boost.
“Normally you know everyone, but this is a little edge because you don’t know who you’re racing,” said Laurent, who also anchored Cascade’s winning 400 free relay (3:43.21).
Bainbridge coach Greg Colby said he was pleased that his team edged Richland by a tenth of a second to win the 200 medley relay in 1:53.77, especially since 10 of the Spartans’ seniors stayed home to take the SAT.
“We’re swimming pretty well,” he said. “They just get in there and they race and we got a couple state times we really needed.”
Still, he said, the relay teams have to go “a lot faster at state to be able to defend our title.”
Bainbridge junior Geneva Levy said she was happy to finish second behind Weinman in the 500 free in 5:16.66. She was seeded fifth in the event.
“Nicole is insanely good and I definitely look up to her,” she said. “It was exciting.”