The Peninsula High School swim team is off to a 4-1 start and has posted a 3-1 record in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
“We’re looking solid,” said first-year Peninsula head coach Tim Messersmith, who took over this year for longtime PHS coach Craig Brown. “We’re doing very well in our meets. What I’m really seeing is continual improvement, which is what any coach wants to see. We’ve had a couple of close meets that we’ve pulled out. They fight and scrap for those points. They’re working really hard in practices, working really hard in the weight room.”
The Peninsula team features a roster of solid swimmers, led by junior Ethan Brown, who swims the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Brown is also a runner for the cross country team.
“I just try to work hard in practice,” Brown said. “I do the best I can. I do the sets to the best of my ability. I just give it my all in meets. I’m working on my backstroke, just trying to increase my speed so I can get to state this year.”
Messersmith lauded Brown’s work ethic and ability.
“He brings determination,” Messersmith said. “He doesn’t like to lose. What I like about Ethan is that he’s very coachable, and that’s so important. He’ll listen to our feedback, and the experience that (former head coach and current assistant) Craig (Brown), (assistant) Cathy (Barmore) and I have. … Being coachable, taking the feedback that he gets, and he tries to get better every practice. He’s not just going through the motions. He’s a hard worker and that rubs off on the other kids. They see him succeed with hard work, determination and being coachable.”
Brown is laid back and relaxed in the pool, but brings a fiery intensity to competitions.
“I just give it all I have,” he said. “I go out there and leave everything in the pool. I just try to keep my anxiety down and don’t worry about it too much. How I do is how I do.”
The team’s other top swimmers are senior Chase Michalke (200 IM and 100 fly) and junior Landen Bullock (50, 100, 200 and 500 free). With Christmas break here, Messersmith is stressing to the team the importance of staying in shape.
“It’s a continual challenge,” Messersmith said. “Families have commitments, they go places. If they go somewhere, we give them a dryland practice and tell them if you can find a pool, get in the pool. If you can’t find a pool, at least do some of this core conditioning, which helps with swimming.”
For example, Brown is headed to Utah for the holiday break to visit family. He finds a team in Utah to swim with during the break.
“That’s the key — being in the pool every day,” Messersmith said. “In this sport, you can’t take two weeks off and then pick up right where you left off. If you miss a practice, it takes your body two practices to make up for that. So if you miss two weeks, it’ll take you four weeks to bounce back. By that time, our season is over and it’s too late.”
Brown is aiming for the state tournament this season, after going to districts his first two seasons. He said he’s working on his technique with flip-turns and underwater dolphin-kicking.
“It’s just some technique stuff I need to work on, and just building up endurance and speed during practice,” he said. “It would be pretty awesome to make it to state. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can make it.”