Liberty, Hazen swimmers leave their mark at state

February 28, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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By Greg Farrar Raymond Ha, Liberty High School senior, cuts through the pool, en route to repeating as 3A state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke Feb. 16 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

By Greg Farrar
Raymond Ha, Liberty High School senior, cuts through the pool, en route to repeating as 3A state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke Feb. 16 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

As Liberty High School senior Raymond Ha approached the starting block to swim in the final 100 breaststroke race of his high school career, the sounds of Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat” blasted from the King County Aquatic Center’s speakers.

The participant with the top-qualifying time in each event gets to choose which song is played as the swimmers walk onto the pool deck to compete in the final race. Surprisingly, Bieber was Ha’s artist of choice.

“I like to do it to psych people out, to get them off their serious edge, so I get an advantage,” he said of the song selection.

It must have worked because Ha, a senior, successfully defended his title in the 100 breaststroke with an All-American consideration time of 57.79 seconds at the 2013 3A Boys State Swim and Dive Championships on Feb. 16.

The 3A state champion admitted he was a bit nervous coming into the last state competition of his career, but credited the support of his coach and teammates for helping him to succeed.

“It was very nerve-wracking, coming up to the event,” he said. “I’m actually really glad I’m done with high school swimming, but I’m glad to end it on a good note.”

Liberty coach Kris Daughters said Ha’s performance was the perfect finish to a solid high school career.

“That’s kind of an emotional finish,” she said. “He’s just a great kid and a really fierce competitor.”

Liberty sophomore Nick Klatt also put together solid performances, taking fourth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:42.95 and third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:36.69.

In the 500 freestyle preliminaries, Klatt emerged with the top-qualifying time, making his third place finish in the finals, a bit of a disappointment, he said.

“In the 500 free, I was seeded first but I came in third. I had more in me. I could have done better,” Klatt said.

While Klatt did not come out on top in the 500 freestyle, he did post his best time ever, and still has a lot of swimming ahead of him, Daughters said.

“He swam really well. That’s an incredible time for a sophomore,” she said. “I think he wanted a win, but at the state meet, even if you’re first in prelims, you’ve got to come out and give it your all, and I think he did that today.”

Liberty junior Connor Biehl finished eighth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57.78.

It was an overall successful day for the Patriots, who placed 10th at the meet, and Daughters said she looks forward to having swimmers such as Biehl and Klatt back next year.

“It was just really exciting to see the boys swimming so fast and having all their hard work pay off,” she said.

Hazen improves on last year’s performance

After a respectable top-25 finish at last year’s state championship, the Hazen High School swim team had hoped to creep into the top-10 with a strong performance at this year’s competition.

Unfortunately, the Highlanders just missed it, coming in 13th place, with 73 points, just six points behind 10th-place finisher Liberty.

Still, the Highlanders had much to be proud of based on the significant improvement they showed from last year, thanks largely to the team’s strong relay performances.

“We want to be a top-10 team at state, and it happens with strong individuals but great relays,” Hazen coach Rick Wertman said earlier in the season.

Hazen relay teams secured two top-eight finishes with successful swims in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay.

The relay team of Nolan Hoover, Chris Foth, Malcolm Mitchell and Kyle Nelson placed eighth in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:42.10.

The Hazen team of P.J. Warmenhoven, Connor Broughton, Mitchell and Hoover took eighth place in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:21.27.

Hazen junior Mitchell also took home an individual medal for his seventh place finish in the 100 butterfly with a time of 53.32.

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