MOSES LAKE — Back in 1995, back in the 20th century, four of the best swimmers in Moses Lake history put up a number that seemed nigh untouchable.
Bill Clinton was in the White House. “On Bended Knee,” by Boyz II Men was the No. 1 hit single. Reebok Pumps were big and the kids started wearing their baseball caps backwards as a fashion statement.
Marshall McKean, Stuart Skaug, Jason Green and Aaron Fitterer combined strokes and talent to post 1 minute, 37.91 in the 200-yard medley relay to set the Moses Lake High School boys swimming record.
For the next 24 years, every Chiefs relay threw everything it had into chasing the number that seemed like an echo from the distant past. The internet began to take shape, then came the turn of the century where every kid that never heard of a public pay phone has a cell phone in his pocket.
And still, the Chiefs medley record stood the test of time, dancing just out of reach, while McKean, Skaug, Green and Fitterer literally went from boys to men with their No. 1 hit single still intact. Now, as we move closer to a new decade and the year 2020, along came a bunch of Chiefs swimmers to take their run at The Number.
Pushed by the Wenatchee relay, on Championship Saturday at the 4A District 6 finals, Noah Heaps, Brett Jorgensen, Dylan Bond and Zach Washburn finally did something that no other medley relay since 1995 has done.
They beat “The Number” with a time of 1:36.95, erasing a record that stood for nearly a quarter of a century and was established seven-eight years before they were even born.
“A couple of weeks ago we went even faster, but were disqualified for an exchange that actually wasn’t illegal. Right now our fastest time is the 1:36.95,” said Heaps. “We all swim our strongest stroke. So I swim the back, Brett does the breaststroke and Dylan is a strong freestyler.
“That puts Zach at the fly. He’s strong in every stroke but with him on fly, it gives us our best chance of going fast.”
Washburn currently holds six of the eight individual school records and swims on two of the record relays. He has twice earned the Iron Man award for meeting the state qualifying standard in all eight individual swims at the 4A state meet. Even though he swims the third leg, Washburn has the ability to take it up a notch to set Bond up on the final leg.
“I don’t swim the fly very often, but over the years it’s proven to be one of my dominant strokes,” said Washburn, who’s school record is 52.11 in the 100-yard event, but has swam 51.30 during the summer.
“Personally, I like being behind (when I go off the blocks), because you can see what you’re going after and it gives me something to race for.
“I like the medley because it incorporates every single stroke. This team, I think, is the most fun group I’ve ever swam with.”
Chiefs coach Tony St. Onge has the luxury going into the 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships this weekend with all three of his relays ranked No. 2 in the state. He won’t know the lineup for each event until later in the week. These same guys swim the 200 freestyle relay and he might load them up on the 400 freestyle relay.
Decisions are still in the works, but there was that one magical day where all the cosmos in the sky lined up and his 200 medley relay did something no other team in Moses Lake boys swimming history has done.
“Swimming fast is always the goal, but it’s cool to have our names up on the record board,” Jorgensen said. “The previous record went up before I was even born and now we’re known as the fastest team in school history. ”
Said Bond, who’s name is also on the 400 freestyle record set last year in the finals of the state meet, “The record means we put our best foot forward and accomplished what we were trying to do,” said Bond, who swam the freestyle leg in 22.21. “In the medley, everybody has to do their part with a different stroke. Being one of the fastest relays in the state puts a lot of pressure on us, but I think we work well under pressure. It feels like family and it’s good to be on the board with these guys.”
They’ll take a run at erasing the long-standing 200 freestyle record this week at the King County Aquatic Center this weekend. But for the time being, they will enjoy that one special day at the 2019 4A District 6 championships when they put up the number they hope will last another quarter of a century.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org