Gateway: Sports

Keith, Peninsula High girls swim poised for big season in 3A SSC

The Peninsula High School swim team has just begun their season and there are high hopes for the team as they look to their strong returning seniors to help lead the way.

“I’m really excited this year,” coach Tim Messersmith said. “We have everyone coming back. Those kids that swam state were swimming club all year so they got a good foundation of swimming and we got a couple hotshot freshmen, club swimmers, coming in.”

Messersmith has a long history of coaching and a strong history at Peninsula as well. He started coaching at the high school level in California in 1991 and has been a teacher as well as coach at Peninsula.

“This is my fourth year as a head coach,” Messersmith said.

What does that breadth of experience and wisdom give him as coach? Most notably, a hunger to take his team as far as they can go.

“Those are our aspirations: Place well at districts, get to state, and place at state,” Messersmith said.

What will it take to get there?

“A lot of fast swimming,” Messersmith joked. “State times got faster which is unfortunate because you have to be a club swimmer, you have to be a year-round swimmer to make the state times. So not an average high school swimmer can do this in just the 8-9 weeks that we have.”

Even with those challenges, Messersmith expressed confidence in his swimmers and hopes to capitalize on the strong team he has.

“I think we’re going to have a good, strong team,” Messersmith said. “I’m going to try to get all three relays and as many individuals as we can.”

This would follow a pattern and a history of success that the Seahawks have when it comes to swimming.

“I don’t think there’s been a year that we haven’t had girls qualify for state and this year will be no different,” Messersmith predicts. “There’s a long standing tradition of Peninsula High School qualifying for state.”

“The goal is to get there and then everything is icing on the cake after that,” Messersmith said.

To continue that tradition, Messersmith has been putting the team through some targeted workouts to make sure that they are in the best condition they can be when the season picks up.

“We’re focused on a lot of core activities because a lot of your starts, your turns, a lot of the strokes involve good core strength so that’s what we’re focusing on in weights and dryland,” Messersmith said. “Swimming, a lot of good yardage. It’s not necessarily about quantity but more about quality of yardage. Most of our events in a high school meet are sprint events so there is a lot of focus on sprinting.”

The team still has some things to work on and are intent on setting themselves up for success as the season goes on even as they get back into shape for competition.

“These first few weeks it’s about building a base,” Messersmith said.

The team had their first meet which served as a learning experience for the team and helped them to see what they need to continue to do to improve.

“A lot of girls were getting tired at the end,” Messersmith said. “We’re finding where our endurance is at and you know we’ll get there to where we can finish strong at the end of a meet.”

How will the team build up that endurance to finish strong through a long meet?

“There’s three secrets: practice, practice, practice. That’s what it is,” Messersmith said. “They have all bought into our program. They’re all committed.”

That commitment was something that stood out not just in the work they’re putting in but also in the time commitment they are making as a team.

“Of the 45 girls I have probably about 35 of them have not missed a practice yet,” Messersmith said. “It’s that kind of commitment, not only to the program, but also to their training that’s gonna get us to where we need to be.”

Who are some of the specific girls that are leading the team?

“We have several returning state swimmers,” Messersmith said. “We have Emma Keith who is also a senior who qualified in the 100 breaststroke.”

Keith shared that same hunger and desire to succeed this season.

“I’m really looking forward to making that state time and going to the state meet,” Keith said. “Last year at the district meet I got a 1:07.67 and that’s when I was tapered and rested up so hopefully I can get stronger throughout the season and make that state time in one of the dual meets.”

In regards to the rest of the team, there is that same confidence and hopes that is shared with her coach. “Each of the swimmers looks strong,” Keith said. “The backstrokers look really, really strong so hopefully we can get our relay team stronger and get that state time in one of the dual meets.”

As for her own career, going into her last year at Peninsula, she has been considering what life after high school swim will be and how she’ll want to continue competing while also staying in the moment to finish the season strong.

“I’m looking at a few schools but I don’t have my heart set on any one of them. I hope to just have fun and worry about the time that I have here in high school and make the most of it since this is my last year,” Keith said.

What does making the most of it mean? She has a pretty good idea of what that is.

“Just to make it to the state finals,” Keith said. “Just to make it to that level and hopefully make the A final but we’ll see what happens.”

That plan to make it as far as they can is all part of Messersmith’s hopes to make the team be competitive not just in the individual events but also additionally as a team in relay events as well..

“I really think our relays are going to do better this year and individually the goal is to come back and swim top sixteen,” Messersmith said.

Whether or not that happens will play out over the course of the season but one thing is certain: The team is setting themselves up for success.