Shorecrestճ Sean Neils swims in the 100 Yard Freestyle during the 3A Boys Districts swim meet on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Shorecrestճ Sean Neils swims in the 100 Yard Freestyle during the 3A Boys Districts swim meet on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Shorecrest rolls to 2nd consecutive 3A district swim title

The Scots have weathered practicing outdoors in the cold after their home pool was shut down.

SNOHOMISH — The Shorecrest High School boys swim and dive team has had to practice outdoors for the past two seasons.

This winter, that’s meant training in some particularly cold weather.

But the Scots have persevered.

And all their hard work paid off with another district crown.

Shorecrest rolled to its second consecutive Class 3A District 1 title Saturday night, finishing atop the team standings of the 15-school meet at Snohomish Aquatic Center.

“The guys worked so hard all year,” Shorecrest coach Scott Kelley said. “There was a lot of adversity. … It was really nice to see it all come together today.”

The Scots totaled 454 points, finishing 87 points ahead of district rival and second-place Shorewood.

And though they won a pair of events, their depth was what propelled them to the top of the team standings. Shorecrest totaled 20 top-eight finishes in the eight individual swimming events, including 12 top-four finishes and nine top-three finishes.

It was similar to the previous district meet two years ago, which the Scots also won with their depth.

“I feel like our entire team was able to drop time together,” Shorecrest senior Cade Birgfeld said. “(It wasn’t) just one person who made us win. It was everybody. So it felt good to swim it as a team. And it felt like the payoff of a bunch of hard work for a bunch of people.”

The Scots practiced and competed at Shoreline Pool through the 2019-20 season. But in March of 2020, the city of Shoreline decided to permanently close the pool after the summer of 2021, citing budget constraints and significant maintenance needed to keep the aging facility operational.

And due to further economic challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the city ended up closing the pool earlier than expected.

That left both Shorecrest and Shorewood without an indoor pool to use.

“It was heartbreaking,” Kelley said.

As a result, the Scots spent both last spring’s abbreviated season and this winter’s season practicing in a four-lane outdoor pool at the Sheridan Beach Community Club in Lake Forest Park.

Shorecrest junior Sean Neils said he and his teammates enjoyed swimming outdoors last spring when the weather was warm.

But it’s a much different story in the winter. Kelley said he remembers practices earlier this season with snow on the starting blocks and steam coming off his swimmers in the cold air.

“The guys learn how to get in the pool faster, because they don’t want to stand on the pool deck,” Kelley said.

There are other challenges, too. But the Scots haven’t been making excuses.

“It’s a tiny pool for the 30 people we have on our team, really choppy water (and) hard to get technique work,” Neils said. “It’s a lot of just hard training. But I think it’s made us tougher swimmers, and it really made us strong (to) compete in meets like this.”

The highlight for Shorecrest came in the meet’s final event, when the Scots closed their championship performance in style with a 400-yard freestyle relay victory. The team of Neils, Birgfeld, Tristan Serrano and Andrew Miner won the event with a state-qualifying time of 3 minutes, 20.68 seconds.

“That’s a testament to the way the guys train,” Kelley said. “We’re faster in the longer relay because they’re in great shape.”

Neils provided Shorecrest’s other first-place finish with a 100 freestyle victory. He out-touched Edmonds-Woodway junior Mate Pallos at the wall by 0.13 seconds.

“That was big,” Kelley said. “You just could tell in his eye that he really wanted it this afternoon when we got here, and he just made it a priority and he talked himself into being able to beat Mate. Those two have been battling all year. … To see him gut it out — he really had to put everything out there.”

The Scots also got significant contributions from their freshmen. Ninth graders Colton Stoecker, Kason Kirkpatrick and Serrano each earned a pair of top-eight individual finishes to help Shorecrest rack up points.

“We just have a really good freshman class that came in this year, and they work really hard,” Kelley said. “… When you get a culture of kids that want to work that hard in practice, it really, really builds the program and all the kids benefit from it.”

OTHER LOCAL WINNERS

Cascade junior Noah Henderson won a pair of races with state-qualifying times. He claimed the 200 individual medley title in 1:59.89 and won the 100 breaststroke in 59.90 seconds.

Shorewood junior Ethan Cunningham took first place in the 50 freestyle and anchored the Thunderbirds’ 200 medley relay team to victory.

Snohomish freshman Connor Colloton won the 500 freestyle and anchored the Panthers to a 200 freestyle relay title.

Edmonds-Woodway’s Pallos, a multi-event state qualifier two years ago as a freshman, won the 100 backstroke with a state-qualifying time of 54.38 seconds.

Marysville Getchell junior Nate Huh-Orrantia captured the diving title.

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