The Islanders will have 25 swims in the Class 3A state meet after running away with yet another Sea-King District title.
MERCER ISLAND — It seems the Islanders may have been laying in the weeds, awaiting their opportunity.
After a mediocre regular season, the Mercer Island boys swim team is hitting its stride at the right time. The Islanders will have 25 swims in the Class 3A state meet after running away with yet another Sea-King District title at Mary Wayte Pool on Saturday.
Mercer Island scored 295 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Bellevue’s 226. Lakeside, the defending district and state champion, was third at 206.
One district-meet record fell, Bellevue eclipsing Lakeside’s 200-yard medley relay mark from a year ago. The Wolverines won in a record 1:37.95.
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It is Mercer Island’s seventh district title in eight years.
“We’re really young,” Islanders coach Chauntelle Johnson said. “I think at the beginning of the season, a lot of our guys were still finding where they belonged on our team. Now, they’re finding their place and how they can help us.”
The Islanders began Saturday’s finals with 24 swims already qualified for state. Tanner Martinez made it 25 with his 4:58.26 effort in the 500 free.
“To be honest, (a couple of weeks ago) I thought we were going to have 12,” Johnson said. “For us, this is building a little bit of confidence.”
Not that Johnson sees her squad as any kind of favorite at state on Friday and Saturday in Federal Way.
“Lakeside is still the favorite,” she said. “They won last year and are really good. This is a year where the top four or five could all potentially win it.”
Islander junior Andrew Weiss, swimming in Lane 4 in both races, swept the 50 and 100 free, in 21.33 seconds and 47.13, respectively. Lakeside’s Abrahm DeVine was the other double winner, in the 200 individual medley (1:58.57) and 500 free (4:43.05).
“I wasn’t really expecting to win anything,” Weiss said. “But it feels good.”
In the 100, Weiss trailed Bellevue senior Matt Williams early before making up a half-body length over the final 35 yards.
“I swim it like that,” Weiss said. “Don’t go out too fast over the first 50, then go in the back half.”
Weiss kicked midway into the third of four 25-yard lengths of the pool and pushed past Williams to win by almost four-tenths of a second.
“I saw him, and just said, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a good last 25,’ ” Weiss said. “I just had to put my head down and go hard.”
Mercer Island wasn’t the only team to add extra state swims. Franklin got its lone district participant, freshman Dean Nguyen, into the field in the 100 butterfly with a consolation finals time of 55.18.
Bellevue added Mark Stanchi’s swim to its state tally in the 100 back. The Liberty and Ingraham 400 free relays also advanced with qualifying times.