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Lake Washington girls swim team wins state title
Athletes on the Lake Washington girls swim team, along with head coach Dave Hale, couldn’t help it. The emotion was overwhelming. But the tears were not of sorrow or even pain, they were of elation and exhilaration after winning the 2A Washington State 2A swim championship Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The Kangs scored 235 team-points to edge Tumwater (205) and 36 other high school teams during the final standings. This is also the first year that Lake Washington has competed at the 2A level.
But the tears were more than justified. The Kangs pulled off a monumental and rare team effort by winning the state trophy with no individual first-place finishes and being loaded with underclassmen.
Depth was the key to the Lake Washington title, placing two or more swimmers in the top 16 of state during three separate events.
The first of those events came during the 50-yard freestyle, as Clare Kucinski-Murphy led the way for the Kangs in second place with a time of 25.15 seconds. Kang Jessi McKinney finished seventh overall (25.81), while freshman teammate Hannah Walker finished 11th (26.43).
Kucinski-Murphy, who is just a sophomore herself, made a statement during the meet. She also took second place in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.99. Teammate and freshman Gabriel Rector followed just behind in fifth place, with a time of 1:01.81 during the finals of the same event.
But one of the biggest strengths of the Kang team came from its diving squad with three athletes placing in the top 16. As a team, the Lake Washington divers dominated by scoring 117-team points, 42 points ahead of second place Sumner. Individually, freshman Nadia Popovici finished second in state with a score of 304.60. Teammate Shay Sarda finished fourth overall (294.95), while Amara Cairns finished 13th (222.80).
The Kangs relays also supplied a plethora of team points and high finishes.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Laura Chopp, Kucinski-Murphy, McKinney and Jayna VanStone finished second overall with a time of 3:46.26.
The 200-yard medley relay team took third, as Rector, McKinney, VanStone and Kucinski-Murphy stood on the podium after touching the wall in a time of 1:55.26.
VanStone also finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.40), while McKinney placed seventh in the 100-yard freestyle (55.95).
The Lake Washington 200-yard freestyle relay rounded out the scoring events for the Kangs, as Brooke Bonnell, Chopp, Hannah Walker and Maya Iba finished sixth in state (1:47.50).