Tomahawk swim team cuts teeth at state

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FEDERAL WAY After a powerhouse performance at districts and a season in which the M-P swim team turned around their record, state finishes in the middle of the pack seemed like an underwhelming way to wrap up a promising year.
Thats the challenge of being a Tomahawk. We have the ability to know how to get up when we need to, and we have to learn how to carry it to the next level, said M-P swim coach Jaci Legore Hodgins.
The state swimmers did as well as theyve done all season long, but at state, they did it against a higher caliber competition.
The meet opened with the 200 medley relay. The team of junior Kami Girard (backstroke), junior Melinda Blomberg (breaststroke), freshman Amy Renslo (butterfly) and senior Michaela Caldwell (freestyle) had qualified for state the week earlier at districts, breaking a minute, 58 seconds for the first time all season.
In their preliminary swim, the girls each swam their leg of the relay within half a second of their best time, but ended up back on the other side of 1:58, falling three places behind the top 16 who would go on to swim finals the next day.
Likewise, Girard finished 19th in the 100 backstroke, in 1:03.06.
The junior captain went into the 400 freestyle relay looking a bit shaken, but the final M-P race actually showed big improvement over the district time that had earned the Tommies a wildcard slot in the race.
With a 3:54.94 time, more than a second better than the week earlier, the relay of freshman Jewel LeValley, Renslo, junior Emily Reinig and Girard finished 18th out of 32 teams, qualifying as alternates for the finals race the next day.
That last relay changed the taste in everybodys mouth, Legore Hodgins said.
One of the challenges of state, Legore Hodgins said, was that swimmers peaked early, swimming their best races at districts to get state-qualified at the last second.
The coach said she already knows how shed like her teams strategy to change for next season.
We can qualify for state before districts, so were not putting all our eggs in one basket at districts, Legore Hodgins said. The reason Snohomish and Jackson did so well at state was they had already qualified. Districts was just another meet. You have something extra to put into your state swim.
Luckily for M-P, of the 10 swimmers who went to Federal Way, nine will return next season. Only 200 medley anchor Caldwell will graduate. It was Caldwells second state appearance, bookending her 200 medley appearance as a freshman when she swam the backstroke.
All of the Tomahawks state swimmers spent the off-season swimming for local club team the Marysville Marlins, and Legore Hodgins is excited about what their future holds.
The most important and greatest thing as a coaching staff is were so excited about next season. Having this group come back and watching this group prepare for the next year by doing Marlins, she said.

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