The Santa Ynez High School swim team dove right into the 2019 season Thursday, hosting the San Marcos Royals in their season-opening dual meet, a meet that also kicked off the Pirates’ inaugural Channel League season.
The Royals swept both sides of the meet — the boys winning 114-63 and the girls posting a 132-54 victory.
“I’m very pleased with the results,” said Santa Ynez head coach Jake Kalkowski. “A lot of our swimmers are picking up where they left off last year, shaving times off last year’s best. That’s a really big positive for the start of the season.”
Henry Allen, Jacob Thielst and the boys 200-meter freestyle relay team won events for the Pirates.
Allen won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:52.77, Thielst won the 100 back in 1:03.85 and the foursome of Jake Healy, Thielst, Jace Grieco and Allen won the 4x50 free relay in 1:36.62.
“It was a great way to start the season,” said Thielst. “It feels good — it feels amazing to finally be back out there with my team. I expected a challenge from San Marcos and it feels great when you win against a tough team.”
Thielst won the 100 back despite hitting the lane divider on three separate occasions.
“I didn’t notice that I hit the ropes — well, not the second and third times,” said Thielst. “Once I get in the pool, I get in the zone. It’s all just a blur. I just keep going and going until I hit the final wall.”
On the girls side, Siena Lageman swam to the Pirates’ only victory, winning the 200 free in 2:19.98.
Seniors Keller Haws and Joseph Blanchard are this year’s co-captains.
Haws will swim the 50 free, 100 fly and relays.
“Really any of the relays that Coach wants me to. I’d also like to break the school record in the 50 free,” said Haws who set the 50 free school record last year. “This year should be pretty great. Everyone on the team is committed, we all push each other. We have a lot of really good swimmers and I love how everyone on the team cheers everyone else on.”
Haws is also a standout on the Pirates’ water polo team and has used the swimming program to help him in water polo but that may change when he gets to college.
“I mostly swim to keep in shape for water polo,” said Haws. “I’m kind of debating what I want to do in college. If I do really well this year, I may try out for my college swim team next year.”
Haws will be attending BYU.
Blanchard swims two totally different events, the 100 breast and the grueling 500 free.
“Swimming helps keep me focused and in the 500 you really need to focus. It’s a long race,” said Blanchard. “But it also keeps me in shape. And I love being part of this team. We are all really close.”
The 500 is 20 lengths of Santa Ynez’s 25-meter pool. The race takes about seven-minutes of non-stop swimming.
“The first thing you need is a song — you need a song going through your head to help you keep up your pace,” said Kalkowski.
“Hey Jaeger, what’s your song?” Kalkowski asked Jaeger Purdom before the star of the 500.
“Stayin’ Alive,” said Purdom.
An appropriate selection given the nature of the race.
Blanchard (5:48.38), Purdom (6:03.26) and Jackson Raney (6:21.49) finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
“Anyone who finishes that race is a winner. It’s just a beast,” said Santa Ynez assistant coach Kieran Graner.
Max Pecile, Thielst, Allen, Grieco and Healy are five more cornerstones to the Pirates’ boys squad.
On Thursday, Pecile, Purdom, Haws and Healy finished second in the 200 medley relay; Pecile grabbed a third in the 200 Individual Medley and was fourth in diving; Haws finished third in the 50 free and then was nipped at the wall by San Marcos’ Asher Steelman with Steelman winning the 100 fly by a whisker; Allen picked up a third place finish in the 100 free; and the foursome of Haws, Grieco, Pecile and Allen finished second in the 4x100 free relay.
Seniors Annie Ackert and Jessica Burt are the girls co-captains.
Ackert is strictly a sprinter, racing in the 100 free, the 4x100 relay and the 4x50 relay.
“I like the sprints because they go by so fast. They are really exciting,” said Ackert. “I also like the relays because you swim as part of a team.”
Ackert made it to the CIF Southern Section playoffs in the 100 free last year and was on two CIF qualifying relay teams, the 4x50 and 4x100.
“I’m hoping to go back to CIF this year in the same events,” said Ackert. “But I’m really hoping we can go farther this year.”
Burt mixes it up between the 50 free, the 100 back, the 4x100 free relay and the 4x50 IM relay.
“But I only swim the backstroke in the IM relay,” said Burt.
“Swimming is my favorite sport. You swim as an individual but you’re part of a team and this team works really well together,” said Burt. “I love being part of the relays. We broke some records last year and I’m hoping for more this year. It’s my senior year and I’d really like to go out with a bang.”
“Annie and Jessica are two of our strongest swimmers,” said Kalkowski. “Allison Alderete and Taye Luke are right up there, too.”
In Thursday’s competition, Burt, Alderete, Ananda Main and Luke finished third in the 200 medley relay; Alderete was fourth in the 200 free; Main was fourth in the 200 IM; Luke was second in the 50 free; Sydney Hedrick was second in diving; Main and Camila Curti were third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 fly; Burt was second in both the 100 free and 100 back; Main, Curti, Alderete and Kylie Luke were third in the 4x50 free relay; and Burt, Taye Luke, Curti and Kylie Luke were third in the 4x100 free relay.
“There’s no disappointment today. We’re just trying to create a baseline and then move up from there,” said Kalkowski. “Our competition is going to be a lot harder this year. The Channel League is a lot harder than the Los Padres League. It’s more competitive but I know we are up to the challenge.”
Santa Ynez is back in the pool Thursday for a Channel League meet at Santa Barbara High School.