KIF Swimming this year promises to be the best and fastest in a very long time.
Considering last year’s performance by Waimea’s Jack Flores, who became the first Kauai swimmer to make the finals at a HHSAA Swimming State Championship in more than 10 years, along with Kapa’a’s dynamic duo Kelii Kaaihue-Akana and Jeremy Albano, this year will be even more spectacular.
Thirteen pool records were set at the Island School pre-season high school swimming invitational held last weekend. Six of those times were faster than the current KIF record time, and are the fastest ever witnessed on Kauai.
And the season has yet to begin:
Below is a forecast of KIF Swimming 2003.
After three years of building, Island School now has a girls team that will have an impact on KIF swimming. In fact, Kapa’a and Kaua’i coaches will need to use Island School girls to win or lose the girls championship. Island Schools girls’ 200 free relay team of Moana Mendoza, Bianca Mendoza and Jamie Emberson and Erin Emberson pulled off the most stunning victory of the pre-season, winning that event at its invitational. The girls have shown some of the greatest improvement in times in the last two years.
“As always, our goal is to swim faster at every race,” said 3rd-year coach Winston Kawamoto.” Personal best times in all our races is what we’re swimming for.”
Kapa’a High School
Kapa’a’s boys, especially the dynamic duo of Kaaihue-Akana and Albano, will have to step it up to upset Kaua’i powerful boys team.
It can be done.
Kapa’a’s girls come into this season as reigning champs and are strong favorites to repeat. While they lost four of their better swimmers to graduation, they still have tremendous depth and numbers. With 22 girls on their roster they nearly double their nearest rivals Kaua’i High.
“We’re still a young team that lacks experience,” said 2nd-year coach Kara Panui. “We want to win KIF, but making it to ‘States’, that is our main goal. We have new swimmers, and with that unknown factor we don’t know what to expect. I just want to wish everyone good luck,” Panui said. Kapa’a girls to watch: Maile Bendor, Bristol King, Heather Sykes, and Liana Nakazawa.
Kaua’i High School
The Kaua’i boys are the favorite to repeat as KIF champs. They have the numbers and talent. Their Medley Relay team of Jarred Perry, Jason Ebesu, Keenan Anaya and Matt Murray have already smashed a 15 year-old mark in the 200 yard Medley Relay and should not only become the first team to break the fabled 1:50 mark, but should do well enough to make it to the state finals. Potentially, they could even medal (Top 3) something that has not been done since 1986.
Kaua’i’s girls will be challenged for the first time in nearly a decade of dominance. They come with a much smaller roster, losing 2002 KIF female swimmer of the year Amanda Scheppers to graduation. Kaua’i literally gave away last year’s championship to Kapa’a by not legally completing their final relay race. Yet with their talent, they can get it back. Being the underdog may be an advantage.
“Our boys want to win KIF,” said 4th year coach Melissa Hall, “but our girls haven’t decided yet. This is the smallest [girls] team that I ever coached and we’re not as strong as year’s past.
“I want to help these kids make their goals and enjoy what they’re doing. With work, all our swimmers, old and new, boys and girls, will surprise themselves at what they can do. They will learn how to succeed.”
Kula High School
Under the direction of Head Coach Andrea Smith, Kula School exploded onto the swimming scene the last two years, producing two KIF champions and breaking one of the oldest KIF marks in the book – the girls’ 100 yard Breaststroke.
Smith also produced several all stars. Smith has left the program, and Kula will start to rebuild with first year coach Dick Oliver. While Kula lost KIF Breaststroke champion and record holder Katrina Hettinger (moved to the mainland), it will return its strongest backstrokers in Kaikea Goo and Stephanie Perius.
“We think we have a girls team that can be competitive,” said Oliver, “and should do fairly well, especially in girls’ Breast,” touting the virtue of freshman Wyland Waite.
Waimea High School
Waimea’s swimming is not just about Katelyn Umetsu.
On the contrary, Waimea brings to the sport a history of outstanding performances, holding 12 of 22 KIF records going as far back as 1986.
This year should be no exception.
Bo Domingcil comes into this season as a major impact swimmer. This he proved at the Island School pre-season meet by beating Kapaa’s sprinter Kaaihue-Akana. “Our goal is to swim hard,” said 3rd-year coach Joanne (JoJo) Tanaka, “but really most importantly to enjoy the sport. I am so impressed with the swimmers we have this year. This is my most pleasurable season so far. We left our goals in our swimmers’ hands as we have no high expectations but to enjoy it (swimming) for the effort they put in”. Other Waimea swimmers to watch — Eric Oroc, Tiffany Tumbaga and Leilani Alquiza.
Both Waimea and Kapa’a will be attending the Kalani Invitational, another pre-season meet held on Oahu. KIF pentagonal meet schedule is as follows: 1-18-03 Host IS, Start 10:00 am, Site KHS pool / 1-25-03 Host KHS, Start 1:00 pm, Site KHS pool / 2-1-03 Host Kula, Start 10:00 am, Site KHS pool / 2-8-03 Host Waimea, Start 1:00 pm, Site TBA / 2-15-03 KIF Championships, Host Kapaa, Start 10:00 am, Site KHS pool. For complete results of both the IS and Kalani Invitational, time standards, and the statewide schedule of high school swimming (and other great Hawaii swimming info) log on to hawaiianswim.org or hawaiiswim.org. See you at the pool.