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October 23, 2013 at 4:00 AM

The Medley girls swimming blog | Week 5

By Doug Drowley | Special to The Seattle Times

Bainbridge, Archer take aim on state target

Greg Colby remembers the last time he felt this way.

“It was in 2000, when we managed to win it,” the Bainbridge Island girls swim coach said. “Of course, we had the Silver sisters swimming for us.”

Junior Helen Silver and her little sister – freshman Emily – led the Spartans to the school’s last state girls swim title that year. For the past two seasons, Bainbridge has gotten close again, only to become runner-up to the last three of four consecutive Mercer Island championships in Class 3A.

But Colby, and his team, think 2013 could be different.

At the heart of the effort to dethrone the Islanders sits senior co-captain Shayla Archer. The defending 100-yard backstroke champion got a big decision out of the way early – her college choice – which has freed Archer up to enjoy her senior run at both individual and team state titles.

“We started out this season cautiously optimistic,” said Archer, who will swim for the University of Utah next fall. “We just have a lot of depth this year. We started out last year building that depth. Now it’s even more pronounced.”

Where Archer will end up, only the future will tell.

After the title in 2000, Helen and Emily Silver carried Bainbridge back to a runner-up finish to Bellevue the year after winning the title. Emily Silver went on to the University of California and eventually won a silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay for the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

For now, Archer isn’t looking that far ahead.

“Making my decision early certainly has taken a load off,” Archer said. “All my friends are going through the application process. I’ve been done with that since late September.”

Being done with her college recruiting has left Archer free to focus on her swim goals.

For one, she’d like to break the school record she set last season in the 100 back. If she does that, Archer likely also will reach another of her goals – defending that individual title.

Archer swam a 56.18 to nip Oak Harbor sophomore Emily Huffer (56.23) a year ago.

“That was pretty much one of the most exciting races I’ve ever had,” Archer said. “I want that experience again.”

In part, it’s that competitive drive that draws her teammates and even her coaches to Archer.

“We do a goal sheet at the beginning of the year,” Colby said. “One of the questions is, ‘Who do you respect, and why?’ An awful lot of them write her name down. Her consistency allows her to be successful. You couldn’t ask for a better example.”

Archer wants to be more than an example, though. She wants to be part of the Bainbridge team that brings the state title back to the island. The Spartans may have gotten a good omen last week during a dual meet.

Bainbridge hosted the defending champs, Mercer Island, and beat the Islanders, 101-85, for the first time since 2011. The win two years ago was different.

“In 2011, Mercer Island had a lot of kids that scored at the top end,” Colby said. “They still do have some, and you never know who is going to rise and shine. We just need to keep the ball rolling. I think kids are pretty savvy at figuring it out.”

Archer certainly knows.

“The Mercer meet was crazy,” Archer said. “I really feel our team has a strong chance of taking the state title this year.”

And if that were to happen?

“It’s like giving me chills thinking about it,” Archer said. “That would be pretty phenomenal.”

College commits

Michigan – Carolyn McCann, Gig Harbor

USC – Hannah Weiss, Mercer Island (does not swim for school)

Boise State – Monica Bottelberghe, Columbia River; Emma Chard, Foss

Utah – Shayla Archer, Bainbridge

Know a swimmer who has committed to a college? Email Doug Drowley at ketlet6032@outlook.com.

Comments | Topics: Bainbridge swimming, Doug Drowley, girls swimming

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