Washington Open

            It was a long, crowded, but ultimately highly successful meet last weekend in Federal Way at the 41st annual Washington Open. CAST had 26 swimmers in a meet with more than 1,200 swimmers entered, the most crowded competition we’ve seen this side of Olympic Trials. With that many swimmers, the days were long and the fight to get into finals was incredible-many events had upwards of 350 swimmers vying for one of the 24 slots in finals at night! The meet is open to all ages for swimmers who meet the qualifying times, so 12 year olds swam right next to 18 year olds. CAST had a dozens of great swims, and you can check out the revised top-10 time lists here-we have some new entries and several people moving up in the rankings! CAST finished 17th out of 76 teams, with our women taking an impressive 11th place and our men finishing 27th.  Below are some of the highlights from the weekend!


            Sarah Nicholls won the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, establishing a new team record in the 200. She also finalled in the 200 IM, 400 IM, 100 fly, and 200 fly, with best times in all those events. Sarah’s incredible finals performances are worth noting; Saturday night she swam 4 finals races in under an hour and a half, finishing with the 400 IM, and Sunday she had back-to-back 200 breast and 200 fly about 15 minutes apart, knocking out best times in both. Few swimmers have the mental fortitude to accomplish that! Ian Rector got the Senior Sectional cut he’s been striving for, knocking off 2 seconds in his 200 breast to qualify for the fastest spring meet CAST will travel to. Ian also scored a best time in his 100 breast and is tenths off a second Senior cut there. Ian’s been so close several times, and his perseverance paid off! Our other first time qualifier was Tristan Whiting, who just missed his Age Group Sectional cuts last year in heartbreaking fashion. This time he left no doubt, obliterating the cuts in both the 500 and the mile, posting top 10 performer times in both! It was a beautiful moment to see all Tristan’s hard work and dedication break through; everyone who swims with him knows how much he has worked for those times. I won’t ever forget seeing these boys realize they had earned their cuts at last!! Micah Hudlet also broke through in several events that she’d been after for a while now. Micah dropped 2 seconds in her 200 IM to nab the Senior Sectional cut, dropped 6 in her 500 free, and added best times in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly. Micah’s starts and turns were tremendous; she began every race with an edge due to her explosive dives and breakouts. It was a good weekend for Ian and Micah, two of our soon-to-be graduating seniors at their last WA Open!


            Micah Sharples broke the team record in the 13-14 girls1000 free, dropping 23 seconds and is now the second fastest swimmer in that event in team history; she also went a best time in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. The only thing that slowed her down was the beginnings of the flu bug that took its toll on several of our kids. Jon Archer finalled in the 100 and 200 in both backstrokes and breaststrokes, earning 3 new best times in those races. Jon also swam a new Senior Sectional cut in the 200 free, and is moving up the top 10 times list in all those events; this despite coming down with the flu bug on Sunday. He added a personal best in the 100 free to move into a tie for the 8th slot on the CAST all time performer list. Cole Curtis made finals in both breaststrokes, finishing 13th and 14th, and is less than a second off the team record in the 200 breast. He’s determined to break it, as it’s the oldest boys’ record we have on the books, Clay Miller’s mark from way back in 1998! Cole added best times in the 200 IM, 50 free, 200 free, and 200 fly, and is set up for a great Senior meet in March. All of Cole’s 200s were top 10 performer times! Tristan Schmidt continues to be a rising star, and is swimming well beyond his years. Tristan already had a couple of AGS cuts, but added another one in the 100 breast amongst his 6 best times over the weekend. He is even expanding into the mid-distance events, with best times in his 200 IM and 200 backstrokes, and is closing in on several more cuts for his big meet in March!


            Karter Rasmussen enjoyed a stellar meet, dropping time in 7 of his 9 races. Karter is proving incredibly adept at distance swimming, and is closing in on the Senior Sectional cuts in the long freestyles. Karter bettered his top 10 performance time in the 1000 this weekend by 10 seconds, and smashed his already quick 200 back by 4 seconds. Brianne Gundlach has had a resurgence the last month in her training, and it paid off with 6 best times. She is now on the top 10 performer list in the 200 breaststroke, and is closing in on her AGS cut as well! This was a breakout meet for Brianne as she showcased a lot of raw speed in all her sprint races. Sara Kaitz had an exceptional meet, with best times in all 5 of her races. Sara is quickly becoming one of the top young sprinters on the team, and is very close to breaking into the top performers lists! Special props to Sara’s 200 breast, which she took out as hard as she could and held on -the strategy paid off with an 8 second time drop! Cameron Craigie went a perfect 3 for 3 best times; this was Cameron’s first taste of an “open” style meet without age groups, and handled the pressure of being a 13 year old racing all ages vey well! Cam lopped off 5 full seconds in both the 200 free and 200 breast. 12 year old Logan Robillard made the journey for just two events; this was Logan’s first “open” style meet as well. Logan made the most of his day, with big time drops in his 100 free and 200 fly; his 200 fly was especially awesome, as he took it out almost as fast as he’s ever swam his 100 before, which will mean more big time drops on the horizon for him! Rylie Rasmussen was another one of our 100% crew, dropping time in all 5 of her races this weekend. Rylie had all standout swims, including breaking the 1:00 barrier for the first time in the 100 free and dropping 5 seconds in her 100 breaststroke; this young lady was at the forefront of every heat. Her excellent work over Christmas training really paid off!


            The first time swimming at the huge facility in Federal Way can be daunting; it’s unlike any other pool we swim at regularly, and combined with the elite competition, it can be an overwhelming experience! But our first time swimmers handled the pressure in almost every case with aplomb. Ethan Downing made his first time in Federal Way count, going 8 for 9 best times, with perhaps his best swim being the 500 freestyle-Ethan dropped 9 seconds and blasted the WA high school state time to go along with the several other cuts he posted this weekend. Ethan is quickly gaining on his AGS cuts in several events as well, and has established himself as a well rounded swimmer, with best times in each stroke discipline. Louie de Tar got to compete at the King County Aquatic Center for the first time, after years of watching her older sisters swim here. Louie was all smiles the whole time, and the thrill of getting to watch her race where she’d always been a spectator before was very special, as were her best times in the 100 and 200 freestyles! This was Chris Hartman’s initial trip to Federal Way as well, and the big stage didn’t get the best of him at all. Chris was 7 for 9 on best times; his plan of jumping all over the first part of his races to get a lead proved to be the perfect tactic, and has him set up for a run at the zone cuts this summer. Chris’ best swim was the 500 free, with a 10+second time drop to break the 5:20 mark. Henry Schmick was another perfect 3 for 3 in his first meet at KCAC. Henry’s freestyle stroke work is starting to round into form, but his standout events are clearly breaststroke right now, particularly the 200, which has dropped 9 seconds since last March! Another of our first-timers at the pool and this style of meet, Abbey Whiting proved the stage wasn’t too big for her. Abbey was 5 of 6 for best times, and finally got under the 5:45 mark in the 500 free that she’d been shooting for with a brilliantly split race-I have a feeling she’s going to rival her brother’s distance swimming acumen before it’s all said and done! Alisa Felshaw posted best times in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes, and was very close to dropping times in several other events. Alisa has her eyes set on qualifying for AGS in March!


            As anyone who’s been in the sport for more than a couple of meets knows, swimming is not a straight-line improvement proposal and there will be hard meets! Not every swim will be a best time, and bouncing back from a disappointing swim or even a disappointing meet is something everyone will have to do at some point. Jayben Scalph had an up and down meet, but we’re very proud of the best time he swam in the 100 fly-Jayben’s been working very hard on ironing out that stroke, and he’s steadily dropped from a 1:11.9 one year ago to the 1:05.1 he swam on Saturday. Makena Smith sadly had her meet cut short by the flu, but even while sick she managed to gut out a best time in the 200 IM on Friday, and was just a tenth off her PR in the 50 free. Emily Deitz was another swimmer affected by sickness in the leadup to the meet, although she did manage to make finals in the 50 free on the first day, and posted a great leadoff relay split in the 200 medley. Hailey Pierce has had to miss a lot of time the last few weeks due to outside circumstances and just couldn’t hit the times she wanted; but she soldiered on and put a good face on the last 2 days of the meet! Toriana Wilson was another one of the few swimmers who had a tough meet, and just couldn’t put it all together to knock out best times. However, I was very proud of how maturely Tori dealt with the disappointment, and how she kept racing hard and attacking her races as best she could. I know the work she has put in over the last couple of weeks will continue to grow through the end of the season and put her in a good position to drop some time. Chang He has put in all the work in the world the last few months, and it seems that payoff will just have to wait a while longer. It’s been a taxing season for Chang, but he’s banked a lot of hard work and when the breakthrough comes at taper time it will taste all the sweeter! Even when you do all the things right, best times can be elusive, and the faster you are the more difficult it is to drop time!


The coaches would like to say thank you to all our swimmers for your patience with the long days and your effort throughout. Champs and Sectionals are fast approaching, be sure to come ready for some speed work every day in practice!