The landscape for Steilacoom High School boys swimming has shifted.
That’s because Ben and James Scott have rattled the foundation and turned the Sentinels from a 2A SPSL afterthought and a program with no swimming pool into a state powerhouse, even if they still lack that home pool (they swim at either Clover Park or Lakes High School).
Upon seeing the team increase participation from 15 to 35 swimmers, James declared boys swimming “the best (sports) team at Steilacoom. It’s been great to be a part of this team’s rise.”
Since their arrival, the Sentinels’ record book has been rewritten. Ben broke six individual records last year, and James set the new mark for the 100-yard breaststroke. Ben, James, Andrew Gonzalez and Andrew Lamb also own the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay records.
Last season, Ben won a state championship in the 100 freestyle
and the 100 backstroke while Steilacoom had its highest team finish (fourth place) in the 2A state meet behind winner Archbishop Murphy. James finished fourth in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
They had a solid first season together, to say the least.
This season, Ben (five), a senior, and James (three), a sophomore, have already qualified for state in eight combined individual events. Both also qualified in the 200 medley relay along with Gonzalez and Lamb.
“Ben and James have swimming in their blood,” Sentinels coach Kathy Casey said. “They’ve been swimming all their lives in club swim with their older brother Sammy. It just comes naturally for them.”
Sammy Scott, Jr., a 2011 Steilacoom graduate who competes for Arizona State University men’s swimming team, has been a driving force for both his younger brothers all their lives.
“He was the one who got us into swimming in the first place,” Ben said. “Sammy has been a big mentor for the both of us, always pushing us to be better out there.”
James, being the youngest of the three, had more than Sammy as an influence: “Sammy has been more of a motivator for Ben (and) both of them have really been influential for me in swimming and school.”
Ben has signed with the University of Utah. Much like his older brother, he will enter as a pre-medical major with aspirations of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“When Ben’s in the pool, he’s all about business,” James said. “He’s like a coach out there and keeps us all focused. I know I would slack off more if he wasn’t there.”
While Ben is all business, James is like a kid in the pool.
“He loves to race – loves to compete. We both do,” Ben said. “He has so much natural talent, I just try to focus him so he brings that out. But he has so much fun out there.”
Strict or fun-loving, Casey believes each approach has changed the Sentinels for the better.
“They make their team better around them,” she said. “Along with (Gonzalez) and Ryan Shipes in diving, they have us already matching up with some of their best times last season. We can go far in state with them.”
prep Boys Swimming Primer
Kentridge, Gig Harbor and Curtis have deeper rosters in Class 4A, but Steilacoom in 2A is the best bet to win a state team championship. Led by brothers Ben and James Scott, the Sentinels return six swimmers off their fourth-place squad from a year ago, and have enough talent to win their first state crown in February.
SPSL South – Curtis. SPSL North – Kentridge. Narrows 4A – Gig Harbor. SPSL 3A – Peninsula/Auburn Mountainview. Narrows 3A – North Thurston. SPSL 2A – Steilacoom. 2A Evergreen – Capital.
SWIMMER TO WATCH
Minnesota signee Chase Bublitz of Kentridge is a four-time 4A champion – all in different events (50 free and 100 butterfly as sophomore in 2012, and 100 free and 200 free as junior in 2013). Has the big frame of an elite swimmer, and could be on collision course with Eastlake’s Edward Kim, a six-time 4A individual champion, in the 50 free.
BEST OF REST
4A SPSL: Mitchell Crossen, Rogers, jr. (50 free, 100 free); Grant Meyers, Mount Rainier, jr. (500 free); Brian Woodbury, Curtis, sr. (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly).
4A Narrows: Kellen Furrer, Gig Harbor, sr. (500 free); Erik Nielsen, Gig Harbor, sr. (50 free, 100 free).
3A SPSL: Luke Lavine, Auburn Mountainview, jr. (50 free, 100 free); Caleb Riggs, Peninsula, sr. (200 IM).
2A SPSL: Jaycob Davies, Washington, jr. (200 free, 500 free); Ben Scott, Steilacoom, sr. (100 free, 100 backstroke); James Scott, Steilacoom, so. (100 breaststroke, 200 IM).
2A Evergreen: Logan Field, River Ridge, sr. (100 free, 200 free); Phillip Reece, Capital, jr. (100 butterfly).kevin.manning@ thenewstribune.com Kevin Manning and Todd Milles, staff writers