Washington Open

           The Washington Open has traditionally been one of our strongest meets, with our athletes coming off of the intensity of Christmas training as we transition into more speed-based workouts with Championship season approaching. This year, though, surpassed all previous Opens, with three days of best times, new cuts, and team records falling. CAST’s previous best finish at the meet was 11th, but for the first time ever, we cracked the top 10 and finished 9th out of the nearly 60 teams and over 1,200 swimmers in attendance. The meet this year was faster than ever-it almost always took well under the Senior Sectional cut to make finals swims, and several events like the women’s 100 free had more than 400 competitors!

4 team records fell at the meet; the team of Emily Deitz, Sarah Nicholls, Sara Kaitz, and Hailey Pierce led off the meet with a new mark in the 200 free relay, and at night Emily, Sarah, Hailey, and Natasha Astrauskas knocked off the 400 medley relay. The men’s team got on the record board as well, with Karter Rasmussen, Chang He, Aren Kariotis, and Milan Saric taking down the men’s 400 medley relay record.

Individually, Chang He set a new team record in the 200 breaststroke in prelims of Sunday’s session. Chang broke through and recorded best times in all 6 of his races, and made 4 finals swims. Chang is one of our perennial “tough as nails” workers, and everyone was rooting for him to do well this weekend-it was wonderful to see!

Tristan Whiting, another of our 100% best timers, fulfilled a long-term goal and qualified for Senior Sectionals in 2 races, narrowly missing out on a couple more. Tristan’s best swim was a blazing 4:44 500 free, qualifying for finals and smashing the Senior cut by 5 seconds-it was an emotional moment for us all, to finally see the culmination of that goal! Tristan’s versatility was on full display, with huge drops in the 200 breast (5 seconds), 200 IM (under 2:00 for the first time) and 400 IM (7 seconds).

Milan Saric also enjoyed a breakout meet, notching an incredible 8 best times and getting new senior sectional cuts in 3 races. Milan’s highest finish was 7th in the 100 fly, but maybe his best race was the 50 free, in which he now owns the 2nd and 5th fastest swims in team history en route to a 10th place finish. Milan is now the pre-eminent sprinter currently in the Inland Empire and soon could be the fastest in CAST history!

Toriana Wilson was a leader of the “perfect” club, going 8 for 8 best times. Tori had a bevy of good swims, and her aggressive racing attitude was the primary reason. She willed herself to several of the best times, pushing her tempo and legs to the breaking point, with wonderful dividends. Tori’s best race was her 6 second drop in the 200 back, placing her 10th on the all-time performer list and making her senior Zones cut for next summer!

Natasha Astrauskas went best times in all 6 of her swims, and posted top 10 performer times in the 200 IM, 100 fly, and 200 fly, with her highest finish of 37th in the 100 fly. Her relay split was key on both medley relays; Natasha is proving to be a hugely valuable asset to her team, not the least of which is her ability to make those around her laugh and have fun, then turn around and race to a new best time!

Abbey Whiting was yet another member of the 100% club, notching all 8 best times. Abbey’s rate of improvement is absolutely tremendous, dropping more than 4 seconds in 4 different races, which is incredibly difficult to do for an established swimmer. My favorite swim of Abbey’s was the 200 back; she lopped off 5 seconds and had near perfect splits (her last 3 50s at the same speed), which we’ve come to expect from this very talented middle distance swimmer!

Micah Sharples gets the award for “comeback swimmer of the meet”, surprising even herself with some of her swims. Micah got on a roll and dropped time in her last 6 events, including some longstanding marks in the 200 back and 100 fly. Her standout swim though was a 3 second drop in the 100 free to get down under 57 seconds; she looked as shocked as anyone I’ve seen with just how fast she was! Micah has had to really fight this past season to come back to form, and the dedication and tireless effort has begun to pay out for her.

In addition to her excellent relay splits, Sara Kaitz had 4 best times over the weekend, including making it onto the top performer list in the 200 breaststroke with a spectacular 4 second drop. Sara is chasing down the Senior Zone cut this summer in that event and is right on the cusp! She dropped a whopping 10 seconds in her 100 fly as well, demolishing her heat in the process.

Sarah Nicholls was our top point-scorer at the meet, making 7 finals and winning the 100 breast, adding a 2nd place finish in the 200 breast. Sarah continues to do everything well, with best times in the 50 free (and a Junior Nationals bonus cut), 100 fly, 200 back, and 200 fly. Never one to back down, she had the toughest finals slate of all our swimmers each night and raced every time at the highest level-her consistency is one of her best assets and will serve her very well in all her future endeavors!

Karter Rasmussen had a great weekend of swimming, going 8 for 10 on best times despite swimming more yards than anyone else on the team. Karter started with a bang, dropping in his 1000 free to get the Senior Sectional cut; he also broke 2:00 for the first time in the 200 back and made finals. Karter’s highest finish was 17th overall in the 1650 at the end of an exhausting lineup of races!

Julia Pierce, our youngest female competitor, continued her rise as one of the top young sprinters in Inland Empire, with a perfect 5 for 5 weekend. Julia’s free and backstroke are going to be finals-worthy at SC champs come March in the 13 -14 age category, and she only got better at her breathing tempo and breakouts as the meet went on!

Kelton Ellis, one of our newest CAST additions, dropped in 6 races and showed a ton of improvement on his underwater work and his short axis swimming. Kelton, a distance free specialist, also found a place on CAST’s top performer lists in both the 1000 free and 1650 free.

Chris Hartman dropped time in 5 of his 7 races, my favorite of which was his 500 free. Chris had an ambitious goal time in mind, and took it out fast enough to give him a chance to get it. While he came just short of his goal time, it still resulted in a 7 second drop-a good lesson for all our swimmers!

Aren Kariotis had 6 personal bests and made another Senior Sectional cut in the 50 free. Aren got some valuable finals experience at a meet of this caliber in the 100 fly, finishing 23rd overall; he was tantalizingly close to making a couple more finals swims and senior cuts, including the 100 back where he has shown incredible improvement over the last season!

Logan Robillard, our youngest male competitor at 13, dropped in 8 of his 9 races, and broke through some notable milestones. He got in under 1:00 in the 100 fly for the first time and went sub-25 in the 50 free. Logan was within a second of the zones cut in the 500 freestyle after a big 6 second drop, placing 99th overall.

Ethan Downing notched 5 best times this weekend, and broke 1:00 in the 100 back for the first time. He also stepped up for the men’s 200 free relay, posting a best time on his relay split. Ethan is in the middle of high school season in Washington, and is well situated to have a great state meet next month!

Josie Jennings competed on Friday and Sunday, going 3 for 4 best times and dropping over 2 seconds in the 100 and 200 back as well as the 100 free. To give you an idea of the scope of the meet, Jose came into the 100 back seeded 300th and with her big time drop she moved up over 80 spots!

Louie de Tar went a best time in her 50 free and gamely raced as hard as she could; Louie is fighting through health problems outside her control, and despite the pain she always pushes herself to go faster. Best of all is her relentlessly positive attitude; if you didn’t know she was hurting, she would never clue you in. Of all our swimmers, she has the most ready-made excuse to throw in the towel or have a frown on her face, but she never does, and all our kids should take inspiration from her toughness and her good cheer in the face of adversity.

Lanis and Sydney Webb came out just for Sunday, after a car accident derailed their plans to come out earlier in the weekend. Both kids made a great show of it however; Lanis had big time drops in both his events, breaking 1:00 for the first time in the 100 back and dropping nearly 2 seconds in his 100 free. Sydney was within a tenth of her best time in her lone event; while we wish they could have been there for more great races, we are proud of them for sticking it out under extenuating circumstances and coming out to race hard anyway!

Olivia Mennitt was our lone A squad representative and comported herself very well. Olivia notched best times in 2 of her 3 races, and was right at her best in the third. Olivia’s first time at the world class facility was not at all daunting, she rose up and raced like a pro!

Jon Archer only swam Sunday, but made the most of it, going best times in his 100 free and 100 back and making finals in both. Jon finished 3rd overall in the 100 back, and now owns top-10 performance swims in those events!

Josh Hudlet made the journey for only a pair of events, but made the most of them with best times in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke-the breast was particularly impressive, with a nearly 2 second drop!

Henry Schmick went 2 for 4 on best times, and went under 26 for the first time ever in the 50 free. He did a good job racing his heats and managing the excitement in his swims; this led to a solid performance under the pressure of this very fast meet, at only his second meet at the Aquatic Center in Federal Way. 

Hailey Pierce raced right at her best times all weekend, and dropped in her 100 fly. Her best swims, like many of our athletes, came on the relays, where she consistently raced faster for her teammates to help support those around her; this included a blazing fast 24.61 to anchor the 200 free relay!

Rylie Rasmussen had 2 best times this weekend; while she didn’t drop in all the races she wanted to she was right at her best times in every swim. Rylie did a great job learning about her races and asking the right questions afterwards. This will serve her in great stead when champs rolls around-learning about what they need to improve on in their races is crucial for any swimmer, and a vital part of getting faster!

Emily Deitz narrowly missed out on a couple finals swims, placing as high as 26th in the 100 back. Emily really stepped up on relays, consistently outswimming her individual times from the weekend to help those relays break our team records. While the weekend wasn’t everything she’d wanted, Emily still has speed and taper season before her culminating meet in March!

Cameron Craigie battled illness all weekend, and while he struggled in some of the longer races, he still managed best times in the 200 free and 100 free; I was most proud of the 100 free at the end of the meet; it can be hard to get up and go fast when best times are not coming, but he did just that to end on a good note.


Thank you to all the swimmers who made this meet a real joy to coach; it was fast swim after fast swim all weekend, and coach Bob and I are thrilled with where our team sits on the cusp of championship season. Congratulations to our wonderful athletes! If you would like to check out the top times lists, they are here; all our swimmers can now sign up for champs on the website, please go do so now!