SKA places 5th to be highest-scoring Neighbor Island team at O‘ahu invite

WAIPAHU, O‘ahu — Swim Kaua‘i Aquatics swimmers earned a fifth-place finish at the recent Bill Smith Invitational swim meet on O‘ahu, the finish giving SKA the highest scoring Neighbor Island team in the field of 17 teams.

“They were the highest scoring Neighbor Island club, placing just behind the four biggest O‘ahu swim clubs,” said Stacey Machorek in an SKA release. “The swimmers, ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old, may have varied in their experience levels, but they all came prepared to race, and walked away with many new personal bests.”

Hawai‘i-born Gold Medalist Bill Smith, 88, welcomed more than 300 athletes to the 13th annual Bill Smith Invitational swim meet, the swim being held in his honor and praising the hard work and dedication demonstrated by the swimmers in the sport he loves.

Athena Alexander, 12, Jackson Evans, 12, James Pratt, 10, Julia Safford, 10, Akira Williams, 11, and Ryden Williams, 9, all first-timers at a state meet, clinched new state qualifying times at the O‘ahu meet.

“Although it was their first time at an off-island invitational meet, they didn’t show any nerves and went out there and competed with the best,” Machorek said in the release.

Stopping the clock at 31.95, Alexander pocketed a new QUAL time standard in the 50-yard butterfly, one of the young swimmer’s strong swims where she posted improvements in seven of her 10 swims.

Evans pocketed five new state QUAL swims over two days, posting new personal times in every event he swam in. His QUAL swims included the 50-yard butterfly (31.95), 50-yard freestyle (28.59), 100-yard freestyle (1:04.78), 200-yard freestyle (2:24.30) and 100-yard backstroke (1:16.87).

Pratt shone in the breaststroke events, capturing QUAL swims in the 50-yard breaststroke (45.83) and the 100-yard breaststroke (1:43.90), adding an AA time standard in the 100-yard backstroke (1:28.13) and 200-yard freestyle (2:44.09).

The Williams brothers, Akira and Ryden, each pocketed three new QUAL time standards, Akira finding his time in the 100-yard backstroke (1:18.45), 50-yard freestyle (28.94) and 200-yard freestyle (2:22.47) and Akira getting his marks in the 50-yard breaststroke (46.27), 200-yard freestyle (2:43.07) and the 200-yard Individual Medley (3:08.85), finishing in 11th place in the Boys 10 and Under age group.

“These kids have been training hard and we have been challenging them in practice,” said SKA coach Billy Brown in the release. “They came here ready to race. This was the first time at a big off-island meet for eight (of 21 SKA swimmers) of our swimmers and they did an incredible job and gained valuable experience.”

With the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation swim season looming on the calendar, SKA veteran swimmers and KIF swim participants Kate Machorek, 14, Yasmine Ware, 15, and Sophie Britzmann, 17, turned in fast and high-scoring swims at the meet, Stacey Machorek said.

Kate dominated the 13 and 14 Girls division, ending 20 points ahead of her nearest competitor with 73 points, while attaining new Western Zone time standards in the 100-yard butterfly (1:00.73) and the 200-yard butterfly (2:16.37).

Kate’s five first place finished included the 50-yard free (25.31), 100-yard free (54.37), 200-yard free (1:57.81), 200-yard backstroke (2:07.51) and IM (2:11.34).

Ware finished second overall in the 15 to 16 Girls division, finishing either second, or third, in all 10 of her swims to accumulate 66 points.

Britzmann, recently aging up into the Open Women’s division, finished second in her age group with 39 points, earning a new QUAL time standard in the 200-yard butterfly (2:37.10).

Zach Safford, 12, one of the rising SKA stars, posted a perfect meet with 10 new personal best swims, including two QUAL time standards in the 50-yard backstroke (34.78) and the 100-yard butterfly (1:11.20), touching third in the 50-yard breaststroke (36.04) and 100-yard breaststroke (1:17.10) and ending seventh overall in the 11-12 Boys age group.

Kaira Kaaihue, 12, finished with seven new personal best swims over two days, including three new QUAL time standards in the 50-yard butterfly (32.08), 50-yard free (28.73) and 200-yard free (2:15.86).

Saber, 14, and Dutch, 11, Fairbanks each earned new AA time standards, Saber getting his in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:57.35) and Dutch pocketed his in the 100-yard butterfly (1:21.41). Their older sister, Tambrina, 16, finished 12th overall in the Girls 15-16 age group, earning six new personal bests, including a sixth place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:36.09).

Asa Hendrickson, 13, got a AA time standard in the 200-yard free (2:17.70); Hayley-Jay Kaeo, 9, earned AA in the 50-yard breaststroke (46.07); Carolyn Price, 13, got an AA in the 200-yard IM (2:36.00); Xaveria Rodriguez, 10, picked up an AA in the 50-yard free (34.90) and the 50-yard butterfly (39.88); Malia Splitsstoesser, 10, found AA in the 50-yard backstroke (43.51) and 100-yard free (1:19.49); with Ava Wagner, 13, getting AA in the 100-yard backstroke (1:16.88) and 200-yard backstroke (2:43.46).

Jack Machorek, 12, marked personal bests in the 100-yard backstroke (1:13.87), 200-yard free (2:15.32), and 200-yard IM (2:36.96).

SKA relay teams also added valuable points for the overall team standings leading to its eventual fifth place, the 10 and Under Girls finishing fifth overall in the 200-yard Medley and seventh in the 200-yard free relay events.

The 11-12 Boys finished fourth in the 200-yard free relay and fifth in the 200-yard medley relay while the senior girls, swimming in the Mixed-Age Women’s Open division, finished third in both the 200-yard free and 200-yard medley events.

“It was an absolute treat to be at the biggest invitational of the year with all four SKA coaches, an amazing group of cheering parents, and kids who were lighting it up, race after race,” Brown said.

“To finish fifth overall, this weekend was a huge reflection of what a great team we have and I’m so excited for all our meets coming up, soon.”

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