Mercer Island starts after sixth straight title
By Doug Drowley
Special to The Seattle Times
Back in 1998, the Chicago Bulls propagated the notion of “One for the Pinky Toe,” the NBA basketball team’s motto for that season as they chased yet another championship.
Here in the state of Washington, the Mercer Island girls swim team already had five consecutive state titles by the time its 1998 season rolled around. That year, the Islanders won No. 6 in a row.
To say the Mercer Island program is in familiar territory again in 2014 might be an understatement. Beginning with the Kingco Championships a week from Saturday, the Islanders begin the three-week quest to duplicate the feat the school accomplished between 1993 and 1998.
Chauntelle Johnson’s five-time defending state champs will go after a sixth consecutive title on November 14 and 15 at King County Aquatics Center. The Islanders begin the post-season at the University of Washington, with finals of the Kingco meet set for Nov. 1.
Mercer’s quest for a second run of six titles in a row will include familiar names, but also some that are experienced and relatively unknown.
Junior Sabrina Kwan posted two second-place finishes – in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly – at state a year ago. Senior Leah Fish was third in the 200 and 500 frees.
Gone are big contributors such as Caitlin Cox and Alex Seidel, who completed their Mercer Island careers in 2013 having never lost a state team title.
Johnson has rising stars coming through the ranks, though, to replace the departed seniors. Among others, sophomores Audrey Hixon, Maeve Murdoch and Heather Robinson all scored points at state as freshmen in 2013. Murdoch made two Championship finals, scoring eighth- and seventh-place finishes.
It’s that vaunted program depth that has Mercer Island well-placed to chase another title, as the Islanders beginning working on a second hand’s worth of rings – for the second time in the program’s history.
Next week, we will outline the road to state for all of our leagues. In general, most league meets are next weekend, with District meets scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 7 and 8.