Sequim's swimmers will take improvements in their individual times rather than a win, and that's good news after a 103-67 loss to Olympic on Oct. 16.
The Wolves' 200 free relay team of Rachel Hardy, Sarah Keltonic, Louise Showers and Gianna Vennetti inched closer to a class 2A state meet-qualifying time with a 1:55.3 mark.
Hardy is close to two individual marks herself; her 26.96 finish in the 50 free and in the 100 free (1:00.9) are less than two seconds off the state meet-qualifying mark.
Not bad for a swimmer who couldn't swim for most of the summer, thanks to a broken ankle.
"She's a diligent worker; she doesn't let herself get too distracted," Sequim coach Linda Bingler said of Hardy. "Her first four weeks were not great. Part of it was that we didn't have much of a competition the first few weeks. Now she has started to come around."
Hughes, a freshman, improved in the 500 free for the fourth time this season, lowering her time to 6:58.5 in the meet's "marathon" event.
"Every time she swims it, she drops off time," Bingler noted. "She's probably going to be a distance swimmer (in the future)."
Overall, Sequim (4-3) racked up four first-place finishes against Olympic, none more thrilling than the 200 free. The Wolves found the timing touch pad just .09 seconds before the Trojans' top relay team did.
But other than Vennetti's first-place swim in the 100 fly and the Wolves finishing in second place four times, the 3A Trojans out-muscled Sequim for top finishes.
That doesn't concern Sequim coach Linda Bingler, nor does the Wolves' three-meet losing streak after four wins to start the season. With four swimmers hurt or ineligible, the coach said she's happy with the Wolves' progress so far.
"Most of them are a little more affected if they have a poor time (than losing the meet)," Bingler said. "That's what we really try to focus on. If we don't win, it's not a big deal."
Billie-Jane Stone and Rose Hawkins competed as junior varsity divers at Olympic, and Bingler hopes the two can compete as varsity divers at the divisional meet set in early November.
The Wolves were slated to host a "Swim-A-Long" fundraiser Oct. 21 to raise money for a new timing system. Bingler said the system, one that likely costs about $13,000, is portable and can be used in track & field events as well as swim meets.
Sequim hosts North Kitsap Oct. 23, the team's final warm-up before the West Central District meet at Olympic High School in Silverdale Nov. 7-8.
Although swimmers and divers must qualify for the state 2A meet - set for Nov. 14-15 in Federal Way - by meeting certain standards, meet officials often allocate places at the meet for top district times.
This year, 2A schools in the districts send the top two finishers in each event to state. That bodes well for Sequim, Bingler said, since the Wolves have seen and beaten most teams from the district, except a traditionally strong Fife program and the Eatonville Cruisers.
There's a reason Bainbridge High's swim clubs perennially challenge for state titles.
Now if other teams could just figure out what that reason is.
The Spartans, six-time 3A state champions and seven times a runner-up since 1986, showed off their power in a 99-73 non-league win against Sequim Oct. 14.
Before the Spartans backed off and started putting their top swimmers in "exhibition" swims, the Wolves managed just two second-place swims, including Vennetti in the 100 butterfly (1:11.8) and the 200 medley relay team of Hardy, Vennetti, Hughes and Showers (2:21.0).
Six different Spartans earned first-place swims in the first eight events.
Still, Bingler was impressed with her newer swimmers competing against one of the state's best squads, including Brooke Ansotegui, who lowered her 200 free personal best by 28 seconds to 3:03.2.
Hughes finished the 500 free in 6:59.9, a personal best by 11 seconds and a district meet-qualifying swim. Vennetti also is headed to districts, earning a spot in the 100 backstroke with a 1:18.9 mark.
Hawkins was Sequim's lone diver, scoring 43.85 points for