MOSES LAKE — For 11 events, the day cruised along like Michael Phelps pulling through the water for the Moses Lake boys, which qualified 18 guys for the finals of Saturday’s NCWAA 4A District 6 swimming and diving championships at Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams.
Then it got weird in the final event of the day when the No. 2-ranked 400-yard freestyle relay in the state was disqualified for having two team members in the water while the race was still going.
It could have been catastrophic had the Chiefs not already met the 4A state qualifying standard. They’re still going to state, but it does make the challenge more difficult for a team that was just nine points behind Wenatchee in the CBBN meet a week ago.
“We were looking forward to a showdown with Moses Lake in the finals. Now it looks like we’ll just have to swim fast on our own,” Wenatchee coach James Elwyn said.
The Moses Lake vacancy in the 400 relay opens the door for somebody else with the top two placers in every event moving on to the 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships on Feb. 16-17 at the King County Aquatics Center.
Such is life in the fast lane. The Chiefs had a good showing and several quality swims, including Dylan Bond, who was the top qualifier in 200 freestyle, and Eric Kemper, who was the top qualifier in the 100 butterfly.
“I felt good. It was kind of smooth, but I messed up some on the turns,” said Kemper, who is one of five Chiefs who have already met the standard. “I feel like I can drop a lot of time in the finals when I smooth out the turns.”
Said Bond, “I thought we all raced to our maximum potential today. I think I could have got a lot faster in the 200 free, but we all think that eventually,” he said.
With Thursday being a qualifying day where the top eight advance to the championship round and the next eight swim in the consolation finals, there are varying approaches. The deal is, you have to qualify for the championship flight to get to state.
“I try to put my best into it every single time I swim,” said Bond, who has qualified in the 200 freestyle. “I like to push as much as possible. I don’t think about scoring for the team. I think about swimming as fast as I can. There’s always somebody out there that can swim faster than you, but if you’re pushing for a personal record, the rest takes care of itself.”
Kemper said he swims as fast as he can every race.
“I take both races seriously. I don’t try to go slow in prelims, then try to pick it up in the finals. I try go as fast as I can in every race, because then you have a reason to go even faster in the finals,” said Kemper, who has met the standard in the butterfly.”
Moses Lake coach Tony St. Onge made some lineup changes in the relays, thinking about options down the road at the state championships. The 200 freestyle relay currently is the No. 1 ranked team in the state with a lineup including Ander Molitor, Noah Heaps, Zach Washburn and Kemper. On Thursday, he went with Brett Jorgensen, Garett Lake, Bond and Kemper in the 200 relay and the move paid off with the top qualifier.
The 200 medley relay went into the race as the No. 3 team in the state and qualified for another big show in the championships on Saturday.
The racing action begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams.