When Kaycee Simpson emerges from the water, she doesn’t look at the clock. Her eyes immediately shift to the spectator seating area.
After all, every stroke the Stadium High School sophomore swims is for her father.
He was there Saturday as she won a pair of titles at the Class 4A West Central District III meet at the Curtis Aquatic Center.
“I saw him after I was done – I always look up – and he was super happy,” she said.
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Simpson’s father, Jim, keeps hours at Boeing that prevent them spending much time together during the season, so winning in front of him was especially meaningful.
“He loves it so much, and last year I saw that,” she said. “I wanted him to be proud of me, so that’s what I’m about this year.”
And when she finally glanced at the scoreboard, “I was shocked,” said Simpson, who won the 200-yard freestyle in 2 minutes, 08.63 seconds, and 100 butterfly in 58.28.
“It was surprising for me.”
Gig Harbor won the team competition with 301 points, ahead of Stadium (291) and Puyallup (267).
Coach Mike Kelly said that despite bringing his “thinnest district team” in his tenure with the Tides, he was pleased with his swimmers’ times, many of which were personal bests.
“They really came together with a common goal of really coming in and doing their best,” he said. “Coming into the meet, we knew it was going to be close, based on the entry times and the prelim swims … and it didn’t disappoint.”
Emerald Ridge senior Alana Pries was “relieved” to be headed back to state after winning the 50 (24.12) and 100 freestyle (52.72). Quitting club swimming last spring has slowed her times, she said.
“I was kind of worried (if) I was even going to be able to get these times, so I’m really happy that I was able to, and proud of myself for being able to still do it without club training,” Pries said.
Pries said dropping time in Friday’s preliminaries boosted her confidence.
“I went into it saying this is my last year and last districts, so just try to go out with a bang,” Pries said.
Timberline freshman Hannah Barker said her win in the 500 freestyle (5:12.95) was buoyed by racing Gig Harbor sophomore Anna Furrer (5:13.18).
“I was actually really stoked,” Baker said. “We were just going to try and pace off each other and the last 100, we just kind of took off.”
Puyallup won the 200- and 400-yard relays, while Gig Harbor won the 200 medley, for which it holds the 2013 state title.
Other individual winners were Puyallup junior Mackenzie Mergel in the 200 freestyle (1:56.37), Gig Harbor sophomore Alana Ponce in the 100 backstroke (1:00.36) and Kentlake senior Laura Williams in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.86).