Dave Baughman leans back in his computer chair and scans pictures pinned to his office walls. To his right are seven Stadium swimming team photos stacked one atop the other.
He stares at the 2001-02 photo – from his first season at Stadium – hanging in the bottom right corner. All his swimmers are standing, arms behind their backs or lying on their sides, dressed in T-shirts and jeans and looking with straight-faces toward the camera lens. It would be difficult to realize the 15 of them comprised the swim team if not for the pool in the background.
Baughman was asked if he still thinks about that season when he watches the 60 swimmers on this season’s team climb into the pool to start practice.
“I shake my head every day thinking about that,” he said.
Baughman never dealt with anything quite like the first day of practice a month ago when 68 swimmers – “drastically” more than he has every coached before – jumped into the pool.
It was almost like a scene in a Dr. Suess book. There were some who couldn’t swim 5 yards, and some were in serious need of life guards; There were some who could do flips, and even some could win state championships.
“Two of them didn’t even know how to swim,” said Drew Lackman, who holds the top Class 4A 50 freestyle time at 22.15 seconds. “We had to give them fins.”
Coaches walked up and down the edges of the pool helping swimmers who couldn’t travel far before reaching for the wall. Lackman and the rest of the team captains spent almost as much time coaching and yelling as Baughman did while they taught the new swimmers the simplest protocols of the sport such as swimming in the correct lane.
“Everyone kept running into each other and was kind of scattered in their lanes, making the wakes get pretty crazy,” Nick Wiggio said. “I would get hit in the face with someone’s stroke so many times. It was like, ‘Really? Come on!?’ ”
The Tigers won their first team state championship since 1954 last season with Logan Rysemus winning the 200 individual medley and helping the 200 medley relay team take first place. Baughman thinks that is the biggest reason Stadium had such an increase in swimmers turn out for the team this season.
But that isn’t why John Rowe tried out. Rowe is a junior and has wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was in middle school. He tried out for the team this year in order to improve his fitness and have a better chance of enlisting with the Navy.
“I needed to work on my swimming pretty badly,” Rowe said. “I can run, I can do everything else, but the swimming portion of the drill is the only problem I would have.”
Stadium also has Nick Picardo, who has competed nationally in BMX and had to be cleared by his sponsor in order to try out for the team.
“We have people from every click of the school,” Wiggio said. “People from the track team, cross country, football, a lot of water polo guys, choir, orchestra and a lot of guys come into practice late because they are still at knowledge bowl practice.”
But that doesn’t mean the Tigers (3-0 in dual meets) are a hodgepodge of swimmers without swimming experience. They qualified all three of their relay teams the first meet of the season in a 115-71 victory against Rogers – those times are still the top 4A marks in the state.
With Rysemus, Lackman, Wiggio, Bellarmine Prep transfer Matt Um and Josh Maclurg, Stadium figures to be well in the hunt for a second straight state championship.
“It’s kind of funny to watch when you have a kid who is capable of setting a school record and capable of a state title in one lane, and you have another kid two lanes over who swims 5 yards, takes a breath, and swims another 5 yards,” Baughman said. “If you look at our team, you can’t help but chuckle a little bit.”
But that doesn’t mean Baughman wouldn’t take both of those swimmers in a heartbeat. He sees the depth of his team as a serious advantage in league meets.
“I can swim my best kids against another team’s best, but I also have enough guys to say ‘All I need is the 500, can you go swim the 500?’ ” Baughman said. “Fifth place can really matter. If you take fifth place eight times, that can be the difference between a win and a loss.”
BOYS SWIMMING preview
Team to watch
Coming off its first Class 4A team title since 1954, Stadium is locked and loaded for a repeat run. First, it will have to get by Gig Harbor and Olympia in the Narrows League – but the Tigers’ returning depth (Logan Rysenus, Andrew Lackman) and the addition of Bellarmine Prep student Matthew Um put them on the short list of state favorites.
Dual-meet league favorites
SPSL North – Mount Rainier. SPSL South – Curtis. Narrows 4A – Stadium. SPSL 3A – Peninsula. Narrows 3A – North Thurston. SPSL 2A – Steilacoom. Evergreen Conference – Aberdeen.
Swimmer to watch
If the 200-yard individual medley champion truly signifies the best all-around swimmer, then Stadium High’s Logan Rysenus reigns supreme by a long stretch. The Louisiana State University signee won the Class 4A state title by more than five seconds (in 1:50.97). He might get a challenge this year from Eastlake standout Edward Kim.
Class 4A – Christian Barrett, Rogers, sr. (200 free); Chase Bublitz, Kentridge, sr. (50 free, 100 fly); Michael Cox, Tahoma, sr. (100 fly); Damien DeRego, South Kitsap, sr. (100 free); Erik Fulmer, Kentlake, sr. (200 free, 500 free); Adam Gefkovicz, Mount Rainier, sr. (diving); Evan Indahl, Gig Harbor, sr. (200 IM, 500 free); Andrew Lackman, Stadium, sr. (50 free, 100 free); Erik Nielsen, Gig Harbor, jr. (50 free, 100 free); Logan Rysenus, Stadium, sr. (200 IM, 100 back); Brian Woodbury, Curtis, jr. (200 IM, 100 back).
Class 3A – Jordan Agtarap, North Thurston, sr. (diving); Nathan Anderson, North Thurston, sr. (200 free, 100 back); Joseph Bocchi, Lakes, sr. (50 free); Matt Burkey, Peninsula, sr. (100 free); Paul Friedman, Peninsula, so. (diving); Scott Hart, North Thurston, sr. (50 free); Tanner Holmes, North Thurston, jr. (diving); Cameron Lindsay, Auburn Mountainview, sr. (200 IM, 100 back); Caleb Riggs, Peninsula, jr. (100 breast); Bennon VanHoof, Enumclaw, (100 free, 100 breast).
Class 2A – Jaycob Davies, Washington, so. (200 free, 500 free); Andres Gonzalez, Steilacoom, so. (100 fly); Ryan Snipes, Steilacoom, jr. (diving).email@example.com