LIHUE — Two individual swimmers and six relay teams made their mark by qualifying for the state K. Mark Takai Hawaii High School Athletic Association 2019 championship meet last Saturday when the Kauai Interscholastic Federation opened its 2018-2019 swim season hosted by Kapaa High School at the YMCA pool.
The meet marks the inaugural use of a new electronic timing system by the KIF that was installed at the YMCA pool through a collaborative community effort. The new timing system also means that all of the KIF qualifying, and championship meets will be held at the YMCA pool for the remainder of the season that culminates with the state meet on Oahu in early February.
It also marked the return of the Waimea High School swim team under the coaching of Kimberly Nizo and Lindsey Kirchhoff.
Kauai High School topped the performances at the season opening meet by fielding the two individual swimmers making state swim standards, and four of the six qualifying relay teams. Kapaa High School earned qualifying swim standards in two of the six relay teams.
Red Raider senior Akira Williams topped the field of swimmers by earning three individual qualifying swims — the 200 individual medley (2 minutes, 04.90 seconds), the 50 freestyle (21.70 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:01.58).
Of note, Akira’s first place finish in the 50 freestyle at 21.70 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the state standard of 23,49, surpassed the KIF record swim of 22.06 seconds set in January 2017 by another Kauai swimmer, Jack Machorek who is currently swimming at West Point.
Akira finished the day by swimming the anchor legs of the boys 200 medley relay (1:51.07), and 400 freestyle relay (3:40.23) teams that earned state qualifying swim standards with first place finishes.
Kauai sophomore Hayley Kaeo topped the girls’ swimming with an individual qualifying swim when she touched the wall on a 1:13.37 swim.
She was also the anchor leg swimmer of the two Kauai girls relay teams — the girls 200 medley relay (2:04.45) and the girls 200 freestyle relay (1:51.89) — that earned state qualifying marks.
During the girls 200 medley relay, Kapaa High School took an early lead off the backstroke by Maddie Hoesel over Kauai’s Kelli Okayama. But the Red Raiders challenged through three strokes, Julia Safford closing the gap on Kapaa’s Lani Alo in the breaststroke, and Alana Cayabyab closing to less than a head back of Chloe Zumwalt in the butterfly segment.
Juliana Tampus launched off the blocks ahead of Kauai, but a strong turn by Kaeo at the wall pushed the Red Raiders ahead to stop the clocks at 2:04.45, a mere .29 second ahead of the Warriors. Both teams fielded state swim standards for their first-second finishes.
Other qualifying marks included the Kauai boys 200 medley relay (1:51.07) including Ryden Williams, Luke Roberts, Kai Mottley and Akira Williams) whose first place finish was nearly 15 seconds ahead of second place finisher.
The Kauai boys 400 freestyle relay (3:40.23) team with Ryden Williams, Mottley, Roberts and Akira Williams touched more than 20 ticks ahead of the second place team.
The next KIF qualifying swim meet, hosted by Waimea High School, will be launching its first event at 10 a.m. at the YMCA pool on Jan. 5.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.