Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor’s Oates wins 50 freestyle state title, Tides take fifth at Class 3A swim meet

Gig Harbor High School swimmer Billy Oates at the West Central District III swim meet at Mount Tahoma High School, Feb. 1 and 2, 2019.
Gig Harbor High School swimmer Billy Oates at the West Central District III swim meet at Mount Tahoma High School, Feb. 1 and 2, 2019. Courtesy

At the Class 3A state swim meet at the King County Aquatic Center over the weekend, Gig Harbor freshman Billy Oates wanted to improve on his performance in Friday’s preliminaries entering the finals on Saturday.

He did that and then some.

Oates, a Bellarmine Prep student who swims for the Tides, entered the meet ranked third in the 50 free and qualified fifth on Friday, but he swam a personal-best time of 20.88 seconds on Saturday, good enough for All-American consideration — but more importantly a state championship.

“I really don’t think I was expecting that big of a drop (in time) in any of my events,” Oates said. “I definitely think that my team being there for me and my coach being there for me really helped.”

Oates wasn’t done after nabbing his sprinting title.

He also improved on his prelims time in the 100 fly. After qualifying third, Oates moved up one spot for a second-place finish in the finals with All-American consideration time of 49.93.

Led by his big points in the two individual races, the Tides finished fifth as a team with 123 points.

As a freshman, Oates may not have expected to win a championship this year, but he was well aware that it can mean big things for his future.

“I think it opens up a lot of doors,” Oates said. “I’m pretty excited for what will happen next year and the years to come.”

Gig Harbor sophomore Andrew Sexton took third in the 200-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:42.80, and took seventh in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.82 seconds.

Gig Harbor’s team of Oates, Sexton, Michael Derouin and Isaiah Tacker took fifth in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1 minute, 28.26 seconds. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Tides’ team of Oates, Sexton, Derouin and Bryce Brabham took fourth, clocking in at 3 minutes, 15.76 seconds.

Bainbridge Island won the meet with 414 points, followed by Mercer Island (400), Eastside Catholic (136) and O’Dea (129).

Gateway sports editor Jon Manley contributed to this story

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The Peninsula Gateway and The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Manley has covered the Gig Harbor sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.


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