It’s been an up and down year for the Gig Harbor High boys swim team, but one of the Tides’ steadiest performers and brightest stars has been junior Ryan Grady.
Grady, a freestyler, has already qualified for the Class 4A state meet in the 500-yard freestyle, and is about a second off the state-qualifying time for the 200 freestyle.
The Tides, who have grown accustomed to winning the Class 4A Narrows League, find themselves in a different position this season, currently sitting at third place in the league standings.
“I would say we have some good up-and-coming freshmen and sophomores and juniors on the team,” Grady said. “I’m excited to see what will happen. It’s been a little challenging. Some of the teams we usually beat have been a lot closer to us or have even beat us. It’s not a discouragement to our team. Overall, we still have the depth and talent. This is a development year. We’re trying to work up the talent, work up the base so that in the years following this, we can really shine again like we used to.”
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Grady said he understands the significance of winning in Mike Kelly’s program. Looking up at all the records and banners every day in the pool, Grady wants to be up there, too.
“It’s really motivational to the point where you see that legacy that came behind us,” Grady said. “That record board up there, those great state championship times — you see that when you’re practicing. I want that to be me someday. That’s really what motivates us during practice, following that legacy of Tides that have come before us.”
While the season has been a test for the Tides, Gig Harbor has a solid core of swimmers to build around to get back on top next season. Grady and junior Curtis Clay both return, along with a host of other improving underclassmen.
“With Mike’s coaching, anything is possible,” Grady said. “It’s just about showing up to practice and giving 100 percent effort.”
The strong Narrows 4A, led this season by the undefeated Stadium Tigers, has the Tides battle-tested heading into the postseason.
“It’s all preparation,” Grady said. “We’re going to face them again in districts, state — all those things. So it’s really like, ‘OK, you beat us. Now we’re going to beat you.’ It’s kind of a motivation. ‘You took us down, we’ll come back stronger.’”
The Narrows League diving championships are Thursday (Jan. 28) at Foss High School. The Narrows League swimming championships are Friday (Jan. 29) at Mount Tahoma High School. The West Central District III meet is Feb. 5 and 6.