Prep girls swimming & diving preview: 5 storylines to watch

Here are five storylines to watch from the local prep girls swimming and diving scene this fall:

1. Kamiak and Jackson are on top of Wesco South. Jackson and Kamiak finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at last year’s 4A state meet, and should return strong squads this fall. The Knights’ top returning swimmer is Elli Straume, who finished third in the 100-yard freestyle, ninth in the 200 individual medley and was part of the Knights’ 200 free relay team that took first place at last year’s state meet. Song-Nhi Vo and diver Naomi Bingham will also be key contributors for Kamiak. “We will have team depth and one-half of the state record-setting 200 free relay team (Straume and Vo) — and should be battling for that championship again this year,” said Knights coach Chris Erickson. Jackson suffered key losses in Nicole Limberg and Madison Pressler, but should be in the mix again this fall, led by Chloe Limargo (third in both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke at last year’s state meet) and Alexis Nims, both of whom were part of the Timberwolves’ state championship-winning 200 medley relay team a year ago, as well as Heidi Ly. Shorecrest also returns a bevy of talented swimmers, including Anna Sargent, Julia Neils and Jiahui Zeng. Glacier Peak will be led by Riley Fidler (fourth place, 100 butterfly) and Kiah Lines, and Lake Stevens’ Gabby Marlatt took fifth place in last year’s 4A state meet in the 50 freestyle.

2. Oak Harbor returns an impressive nucleus. The Wildcats, who finished 10th at last year’s 3A state meet, should be one of the stronger teams in the Wesco North. They’ll rely on the performances of Olivia Tungate, who finished fourth place in the 100 backstroke at last year’s 3A state meet; Jillian Pape (sixth place, 50 freestyle); and Talia Black. Snohomish will feature Audrey Marrs, Emma Chonzena and Mieko Schwartzmiller, all three of whom were members of the Panthers’ 200 and 400 free relay teams that advanced to the 3A state meet a year ago. Other swimmers to watch include Mount Vernon’s Emma Frey and Emma Carlton, and Cascade’s Nadia Prater.

3. Archbishop Murphy’s Caroline Kowalchuk is primed for another great year. Kowalchuk finished sixth in the 500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 freestyle at last year’s 2A state meet. She’s a well-rounded swimmer, though, capable of qualifying for this year’s state meet in several events, according to Wildcats coach Erin Edmondson. “She swims for West Coast Aquatics year-round, so she usually does double (practices with us) and her club. She’s a very determined individual,” Edmondson said. “I expect her to be in the top eight at state in both of her individual events this year. That’s the goal.”

4. Stanwood’s ‘Jet’ is ready for liftoff. Jetlynn Hau made her mark last year for the Spartans, ending her freshman season with a third-place finish in the 100 breaststroke at the 3A state meet. Hau, who trains with the Marysville Marlins club team year-round, participated in several national-level meets during the offseason. “Jetlynn brings speed and discipline to our team, but doesn’t take herself too seriously,” Stanwood coach Rita Peterson said. “She almost always has a ready smile, and laughs and jokes throughout practice. Jetlynn is a natural racer who can brush off an off-swim and shrug her shoulders with a smile when she ends up seeded first in the state meet her freshman year. We are excited to see what she accomplishes this season.”

5. The Mukilteo Invitational will serve as a litmus test for local teams. Interested in seeing how local squads will fare in a big-meet environment before the beginning of the postseason? The annual 40-team Mukilteo Invitational will be held Sept. 23. “Jackson does not attend, but many schools will see just where they are at on that date,” Erickson said.

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