Gateway: Sports

With large team, Gig Harbor girls swim continues humming along

From left, Gig Harbor High School swimmers Megan Hanson, Tatum Benson and Jenna Anderson hope to make this season a successful one for the Tides.
From left, Gig Harbor High School swimmers Megan Hanson, Tatum Benson and Jenna Anderson hope to make this season a successful one for the Tides. Staff writer

Megan Hanson has moved 10 times throughout her childhood. She thinks the latest move to Gig Harbor will be the last for a while.

Hanson, a sophomore at Gig Harbor High School, has grown accustomed to new settings as an Army brat. Her father’s move to Joint Base Lewis-McChord brought the family from Virginia to the harbor last June.

Hanson has actually lived in western Washington before, living twice in DuPont as a child. She prefers Gig Harbor.

“We never really came out to Gig Harbor when we lived in DuPont,” Hanson said. “My mom wanted to live somewhere different. But Tacoma and Seattle are exactly how I remember. Especially the traffic.”

Worse than the East Coast even, she said.

“It seems like the construction has been going on forever,” she said.

To that point, I think many folks around here would agree. One person hoping Hanson sticks around for a while is Gig Harbor High swim coach Mike Kelly. As only a sophomore, Hanson is already the team’s top swimmer, bringing her talents in the freestyle and breaststroke to the Tides’ squad.

“When I moved here, swim team was the first real thing I did,” Hanson said. “The team has been really inviting. I’ve met a lot of friends through it. I enjoy swim practice more than school usually.”

Before sixth grade, Hanson had played just about every youth sport around, but she didn’t take to any of them. Then she tried swimming, and fell in love with the water.

“I just liked it and stuck with it,” she said. “I just want to get to know my team better and have a fun season. This is my last move until I go to college.”

Hanson said she hopes to keep ramping up her workouts and fitness level and hopefully post some state-qualifying times soon. Swimming for Kelly has already helped her technique, she said.

“Mike has a ton of experience coaching,” she said. “I’m excited to see where that will take me, how it’ll affect my swimming. He’s been emphasizing fast flip turns and underwater dolphin-kicking, so I just keep that in mind during practice.”

The Tides have some other strong returners as well, including junior Jenna Anderson, the third Anderson sibling to come through the program. Anderson’s older sisters, Hannah and Sarah, were strong swimmers and water polo players for the Tides.

Anderson also competes in the freestyle, so having Hanson come in and push her during practice and meets has been a boost.

“It’s awesome and really exciting,” Anderson said. “It’s cool to know I have another teammate I can rely on in practice and meets.”

It’s a big team this year at Gig Harbor, which should help them in dual meets.

“It just means there’s even more depth with the team and the types of strokes we’re able to do,” Anderson said.

Anderson has her eyes set on the districts and state, after missing last year’s postseason due to illness.

“I really would love to qualify for state in an individual event and work with my teammates to get a state relay,” Anderson said.

Gig Harbor has posted a 2-1 overall record so far, with its only loss coming to Class 4A Olympia. The Tides are 2-0 in the Class 3A South Sound Conference, with a 93-90 win over Central Kitsap and a 107-76 win over North Thurston. Gig Harbor will resume league action with a home meet against Timberline on Sept. 28, which is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.