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Updated Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 01:31 AM

Newport's superior depth pays off in title | 4A Girls Swimming

By Ron Newberry
Special to The Seattle Times

FEDERAL WAY — First-year Newport assistant coach Liz Strathy was so nervous the first day of practice she wasn't sure what to tell the swimmers.

So she challenged them.

"I told the girls, 'I was a part of a team that never lost at state, so don't wreck my winning streak,' " said Strathy, a 1982 Newport graduate. "They looked at me and said, 'All right.' "

On Saturday night, the Newport Knights lived up to the challenge. They hung on to win the school's first state girls swimming title since 1982.

Newport scored 217 points at the Class 4A meet to finish ahead of its closest challengers Richland (183.5) and Cascade (169).

Although Cascade won the meet's final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, and Richland took second, it was Newport's third-place finish that ended all suspense.

By winning, Newport finished a KingCo sweep as Mercer Island took the 3A title and Lake Washington won the 2A crown.

Mount Rainier finished fourth in the 4A team race, while three-time defending champion Skyline was fifth.

"They worked together real well as a team," Eric Bartleson, Newport's coach since 1998, said. "It was a real team win."

Newport had at least one swimmer in every event Saturday and won the championship without capturing an individual or relay title.

Three top-three finishes in the relays gave Newport the bulk of its points.

Other big-point producers came from a third- and fourth-place finish by Lorea Gwo and Elisa Fang in the 50 freestyle and a third-place medal by Gwo in the 100 butterfly.

Richland produced its highest finish in school history. The Bombers, considered the Knights' biggest threat, got two titles from junior Lisa Bratton, who was named the swimmer of the meet. She won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

Other double winners were Federal Way's Kenna Ramey in the 50 free and 100 fly and Stadium's Felicity Cann in the 200 free and 500 free.

Garfield's Caitlin Chambers accomplished perhaps the most impressive feat at the 4A meet, scoring 488.20 points in the 1-meter diving to break the state record for all classifications.

The previous mark was 473.30 set by Jessie Snowden of Issaquah in 2005.

That was part of two 4A meet records. Cascade broke the mark in the 200 free relay (1:38.29), reaching the wall ahead of second-place Newport (1:39.77).

"A lot of past records have come from divers from my club Pacific Northwest Diving," said Chambers, who will continue her diving career at Princeton. "We train here. My coach thought it was something I could do, so I got the idea in my head that it was something I could do."


PETER HALEY / THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Newport swimmers cheer on the team's swimmers in the 400-yard freestyle relay. A third-place finish was more than enough to clinch the state title.




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