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Mustang senior swimmers have their eyes set on state
Phillip Klassen feels that team spirit is at a premium for this year’s Redmond High boys swimming team. Freshman are on campus for the first time and that means more aqua athletes for the Mustangs. In all, there’s about 50 guys pumped up to support the squad, which last February had six boys compete at the 4A state meet.
Klassen won the diving portion of recent meets against Woodinville, Interlake and Eastlake and is glad to be back on the road to state. The senior qualified for the third time last year, but didn’t compete due to a back injury; in previous years, he finished third as a sophomore and ninth as a freshman.
“It’s just fun getting back into it, I’m relearning a little bit here and there,” said Klassen, who estimates he’s at about 90 percent of his capability now after recovering from his injury.
Four of his fellow seniors who hung out poolside following Tuesday’s home meet against Eastlake and Interlake say he’s 100 percent, which brings a smile to Klassen’s face.
Another Klassen, junior Eric, is also back on the diving board this year after finishing fourth at state last season and 12th as a freshman.
Other state competitors for ninth-year coach Julie Barashkoff who return from last year’s squad are seniors Albert Jiang, Nicholas Kodati and Michael Pavlov and sophomore Xavier Graham.
Kodati took 10th in the 100-yard butterfly, Graham competed in the 200-yard individual medley and both were on the 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard free relay. Pavlov was also on both relays and Jiang was part of the 200 medley relay.
“This year, I’m pretty close to my best times from last year, but for me to be successful and progress into maybe the top three this year, I need to be able to get faster turns, stronger underwaters and train aggressively,” said Kodati, who won the 100 fly in 58.27 seconds against Woodinville. “I’ve been weightlifting and I think that’s really developed my strength so that I can have the stamina for the back half (of the race).”
Jiang feels the 200 medley relay is back in solid form this year. In a Mustang team victory against Woodinville, the relay took first in 1:50.99 and featured Jiang, Kodati, Pavlov and Eric Klassen.
“We’re mainly just training hard, making sure we put our best into every practice, just really keeping our team morale up so that we support each other through all of our wins,” Jiang said.
Senior butterflyer Zach Simon is hoping to get a taste of the state meet this season after swimming at the Kingco meet last year and at districts as a sophomore. Sophomore Ryan Harper is also looking strong in the 200 IM with a win versus Woodinville in 2:17.71.
“I’m just swimming as hard as I can. I’ve got the mental game and am swimming with as much heart as I can. I’m working on little technique things that keep shaving off time every meet,” Simon said.
Last February, Pavlov competed at the state meet for the first time and he’d like to get back to the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way to make a splash with his relays.
As each week passed, the Mustangs progressed and were ready when it was time for state.
“By that point in the season, we had gotten really close, especially our relays, so I felt really confident going into it,” Pavlov said. “We were really fortunate to go and we wanted to capitalize on the opportunity. It’s a lot of stress, but it’s good.”