It’s the rubber match in the 200 and 500 freestyle races between Skyline’s Sarah DiMeco and Newport’s Yulia Groysman.
Three events that figured to be the most intriguing at the Class 4A state girls swimming and diving championships were the 50-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle.
After Friday’s preliminaries at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, it appears all three events will live up to the hype in Saturday’s finals.
The 200- and 500-freestyle finals will feature Skyline junior Sarah DiMeco and Newport junior Yulia Groysman. Groysman won both events as a freshman, while DiMeco finished second. The results were reversed in 2016.
DiMeco qualified first in both events on Friday, finishing the 200 in 1 minute, 50.81 seconds and the 500 in 4:53.02. Groysman was just behind, qualifying third in the 200 in 1:51.76 and second in the 500 in 4:56.98.
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“This is the third year we’ve been doing this, and this kind of sets the pattern for us,” Groysman said. “I guess who wins this year is kind of the dominant one, because I’ve won freshman year and she’s won sophomore year. She’s definitely a really, really big competitor for me. She makes me work hard. I would not be going this fast if she weren’t racing me.”
Groysman isn’t the only one looking forward to round three of this friendly rivalry.
“We both go faster racing each other,” DiMeco said. “It’s definitely nice to have someone that is with you that can push you to go faster.”
DiMeco and Groysman’s individual rivalry is magnified by the competition between their teams. Skyline came into state looking for its third consecutive state championship, but it’s the Knights that might be considered the favorite. Newport advanced 23 individuals as well as all three of its top-seeded relay teams.
“First place obviously gets more points than second place,” DiMeco said. “They have a lot of new, fast girls on their team, and we don’t have as many newcomers. It will definitely be interesting.”
Some fast 50s
Mount Vernon’s Emma Carlton comes into the 50 freestyle as the favorite, after setting the state record in districts with a time of 22.8 and the state-meet record in Friday’s prelims with a time of 22.88, both automatic All-American times. Carlton qualified first in the 100 butterfly with an automatic All-American time of 53.88.
Carlton won the state championship in the 50 freestyle as a sophomore in 2015, but was disqualified in the final a year ago. Inglemoor sophomore Gabrielle Dang took advantage, winning the event with a time of 23.06. Dang, who transferred to the new North Creek High School in Bothell before the school year, will look to not only defend her title on Saturday but become the first state champion in the school’s history.
“I’m so excited to race and to race next to Gabby Dang,” Carlton said. “I’ve raced her ever since I was 10 years old, so having the chance to be next to her is just awesome.”
Dang qualified second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.04. She also qualified first in the 100 freestyle with an automatic All-American time of 50.18.
Bellevue, Lakeside battle for 3A title
Lakeside came into the state meet looking for a fourth consecutive team title, but the Bellevue Wolverines will have something to say about that.
The Lions edged the Wolverines by 10 points a year ago to win the title, and it looks like Saturday’s battle for the title might be even closer. Including both relays and individual events, each school had 11 top-eight qualifiers, including four qualifying in the top spot.
If there was one separation between the two schools, it’s that Bellevue had four second-place qualifiers compared to just one for Lakeside, but the Lions surely can make up some of that difference with their depth.
Lakeside freshman Amy Tang set herself up for a big day on Saturday by qualifying first in two individual events and one relay. She qualified first in both the 200 and 100-yard freestyle with times of 1:51.26 and 50.56 respectively.
Tang, along with her teammates, also qualified first in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:46.37, setting a 3A state meet record. The team, which also includes freshman Allison Su, junior Isabel Chien and senior Mengmeng Gibbs, broke Bellevue’s record of 1:46.48 set last year.
While Tang was the story for Lakeside, sophomore Janelle Rudolph led the Wolverines. Rudolph, who won the 50 and 100 freestyle as a freshman, qualified first in the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke on Friday with times of 23.12 and 55.89 respectively. Rudolph also helped the Wolverines’ 400 freestyle relay team qualify first and their 200-medley relay team qualify second.
Rudolph is not attempting to defend her title in the 100-freestyle.