FEDERAL WAY — Evan Indahl accomplished many things during the course of his four-year swimming career at Gig Harbor High, but it wasn’t until Saturday night that he tasted the sweet nectar of a state championship.
Indahl made good on his top preliminary seed in the 500-yard freestyle, and he broke away from the pack in the last 150 yards to win the Class 4A title in 4 minutes, 37.23 seconds.
He reacted gleefully at the finish line, splashing and smiling before he exchanged hugs with his teammates and coach Mike Kelly.
It was the first individual state title for a Gig Harbor swimmer since John Lyssand won the 500 free in 2000.
“It was unreal; I have no words to describe that feeling,” Indahl said. “Everything just fell into place so perfectly. All my friends were here, and I just couldn’t have asked for a better setup for that race.”
Indahl had no trouble winning Friday’s prelims at the King County Aquatic Center, and he stuck to a patient strategy in Saturday’s championship race. He let Kamiak senior John Stupey set the pace for 300 yards, then turned on the jets.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve swam that race around the philosophy of, ‘You don’t win the race in the first 100, you win it in the last 100,’ ” Indahl said.
Gig Harbor was looking to earn its first team trophy at state since 2010, but the Tides finished just short of the podium in fifth place. Indahl was part of 98 of the Tides’ 139 points. He finished third in the 200 individual medley and swam on two medal-winning relay teams.
Kamiak (207 points) won the state title for the third time in five seasons. Defending champion Stadium was second, and Newport of Bellevue and Issaquah also reached the podium.
Gig Harbor’s trophy hopes were hurt by a few factors, most notably a disqualification in the prelims of the 200 medley relay, and the Tides’ lack of competitors in the butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke events.
In the 200 IM, Indahl also was the top preliminary qualifier, but in the final, he couldn’t match the speed of Stadium senior Logan Rysemus, who cut 4.49 seconds from his prelim mark to win in an All-America time of 1:50.51.
“I definitely saw that one coming,” Indahl said of his longtime Narrows League rival. “It’s Logan. I said a long time ago that he’s on a different level.”
It likely won’t be the last time Indahl swims competitively. He has accepted a preferred walk-on spot at the University of Utah, meaning he’ll be on the team but won’t have an athletic scholarship. The offer is contingent on him being accepted academically, Indahl said.
“It’s going to be a different type of competition,” he said. “It’s a little intimidating, but I’m excited for the change of environment, and I think that everything Mike (Kelly) has taught me is really going to carry over.”
In the 200 freestyle relay, Indahl teamed with Daniel Arroyo, Tommy Liu and Erik Nielsen to place third in 1:29.57. The Tides also won a sixth-place medal in the 400 free relay, as Indahl, Jackson Curtis, Arroyo and Nielsen finished in 3:16.73.
Arroyo, a senior, became a key cog in the Tides’ relay plans during the past two seasons. His final state meet “ended on a happy note,” he said, even though the team didn’t reach its goal of a top-three finish.
“Even though you’ve got those two superstars in Evan and Erik, it does take that third and that fourth guy to get those relays that really do well in state,” Arroyo said.
“Everyone has to pitch in, and if I can put in a 23.03 (split in the 200 free relay) or a 49.91 (in the 400 free relay), it really helps the team.”
Arroyo also competed in the 100 freestyle, but he didn’t make it out of prelims, finishing 18th in 51.23 seconds.
Nielsen starred once again in the sprints, building on a solid district-meet performance two weeks earlier. He was fourth in the 50 free (21.93) and third in the 100 free (47.94).
In both cases, he was swimming against All-America-caliber opponents. Eastlake’s Edward Kim, the 4A Swimmer of the Meet, won the 50 free in 20.11, and Kentridge’s Chase Bublitz captured the 100 free in 45.21.
“I ran out of gas a little bit, but I’m still happy with my times,” Nielsen said. “I’m really close to the Gig Harbor 100 freestyle record, so I’m planning on getting that next year, and hopefully winning state next year in the 100.”
In the 1-meter diving competition, junior Bastian Weyn qualified for his second state appearance. He just missed earning his first top-eight medal as he wound up ninth with 291.15 points.
Along with Indahl, Gig Harbor qualified two others for state in the 500 free. Curtis, a sophomore, was 22nd in 5:08.76, and junior Kellen Furrer advanced to the consolation final, where he placed 15th (4:55.13).
Curtis (14th in 1:50.64) and Furrer (19th in 1:52.20) also qualified in the 200 free.Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.