Every race is a team race at the South Sound Relays, which makes it unique on the region’s high school swimming calendar.
The seventh annual event Saturday at The Evergreen State College pool featured eight boys teams in 11 events’ worth of relays, most of which are contested nowhere else.
“We can try different things and just have fun,” said Casi Messineo, coach of Puyallup High, which emerged as the team champion in its first entry in the boys’ version of the relay meet.
Finishing times in relay events that are part of a regular swim-meet lineup count toward district and state qualifying, and first-leg splits in every event go on a swimmer’s individual ledger.
“It matters, but it doesn’t,” Messineo said. “We swim hard for our brothers.”
Puyallup outpointed the field with 1,156 points, followed by host Olympia with 1,072, Steilacoom 1,019, Shelton 947, Tahoma 906, Lakes 556, River Ridge 488 and Aberdeen 420.
The Vikings claimed three event wins, first from their 800-yard freestyle relay, with Tatum Lingley, Carson Braddock, Aidan Bouchard and Levi Kiuchi touching in 8 minutes, 4.19 seconds.
Braddock, a freshman, swam the first leg in a meet-record Viking performance in the 200 free relay (1:34.72), along with Andrew Webster, Jakob Kinne and Beau Pasquier.
The senior Pasquier anchored Puyallup’s victorious 400-yard free relay (3:30.72), along with Bouchard, Kiuchi and Kinne.
Seniors Zach Walker and James Waltz teamed up for host Olympia for two victories, winning the 2x50 freestyle in 46.68 seconds and the other two-man sprint relay, the 2x100 free, in 1:42.27.
Waltz, a Bears captain who also anchored Olympia’s second-place 400 free relay team, said the relay format is great for team-building, especially after graduation hit the Bears boys’ program hard last spring.
“It’s you and a partner, or you and three other guys,” he said. “It’s a very involving meet for the whole team.”
Underclassmen got into the fun for the Bears, with sophomore Jordan Kamimura and freshman Max Liu winning the 2x100 breaststroke in 2:18.89.
Third-place Steilacoom got off to a strong start in the meet’s opening event, the 400-yard medley relay, with Noah Burlingame, Seth Koivisto, Vaughn Christensen and Chris Grandinette winning in a time of 3:53.69.
Seniors Grandinette and Koivisto were back together for the 2x100 medley relay, dominating the field in a time of 1:57.36 that set a meet record by .01 seconds.
Lakes picked up its only victory in the 2x100 backstroke relay, with the senior duo of PJ Fischer and Preston Bocchi eclipsing the meet record by almost three seconds with their time of 1:51.79.