The Puyallup High School girls freestyle relay team knew exactly what reward was at stake Friday.
The Vikings not only want to win a couple of Class 4A state relay titles, they want to put on a show — literally — at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
And since they earned No. 1 qualifying spots in both the 200 free relay (1 minute, 42.05 seconds) and 400 free relay (season-best 3:40.41), they get to pick the event’s introductory music before the championship finals Saturday.
And they’ve got a choreographed dance routine to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” planned for those introductions.
Swim hard, play hard.
“They don’t dial it back,” Puyallup co-coach Casi Messineo said. “They just go. That is the cool thing about them — they just go.”
They came in as one of the 200 free relay favorites. But they ended the afternoon session with perhaps the biggest bang during qualifying — chasing down top-seeded Jackson (3:40.52) over the final 25 meters to grab the top mark in the 400 free relay.
At last year’s 4A state championships, she finished 14th in the 200 individual medley in 2:15.52. Twelve months later, she is now the top seed in the event at 2:08.14.
The Tigers’ sophomore cannot explain what is behind the marked improvement.
“I think it’s come in the breaststroke, because I have gotten so much better at it,” said Simpson, the reigning West Central District champion. “I don’t know. It is so different from being one of the bottom (finishers) last year to being on top now.”
In the past three seasons in the state 50 and 100 freestyle races, she has a runner-up finish, two third-place showings, a pair of fifth-place efforts and a sixth-place finish — but no victories.
She gets two more shots at it Saturday, but she will have to find a way to knock off favored Elisa Fang, of Newport (Bellevue).
Her best bet should come in the 50 free. Fang is the top qualifier at 23.90, but Pries is right behind her at 24.10.
“It has been frustrating not to win,” Pries said. “I think I do have a shot, especially knowing this is my last year. It makes me want it. This is the year to get it.”
Bellevue High School five-time state champion Kim Williams was stressed out.
It wasn’t over her swimming, mind you — she easily captured the top times in preliminaries Friday morning in the 200 IM (2:03.47) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.78) as she goes for career state titles Nos. 6 and 7.
No, it came over something far more trivial, but not entirely less important: Her walk-up music as each event’s top qualifier.
The Stanford signee said she was up until 11:30 p.m. Thursday making a playlist of songs. She downloaded 28 of them.
By Friday morning on the drive down to Federal Way from Bellevue, she reduced it to 12.
Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and the theme song from “Kim Possible,” a former Disney Channel television sitcom, she said.
“Everyone on the team is like, ‘It is senior year, it has to be the best (walk-up music) chosen so far,’ ” Williams said. “So I feel a lot of pressure right now.”
Lakeside of Seattle, the Sea-King District champion, moved in position to end five-time defending 3A champion Mercer Island’s reign atop the classification. The Lions sent 20 entrants into the championship finals, including their three top-qualifying relay teams.
“We had a fantastic day,” first-year Lakeside coach Rob Sjoberg said. “I am really, really proud of how the girls swam. And I think we have more room for improvement (Saturday).”
Locally, Wilson High School’s Madeleine Dodge qualified fourth in the 100 freestyle (54.67) and fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:57.41).
2 grafs coming in …