Northshore’s WAVE Aquatics caps off successful season

The long swimming season is finally coming to an end, but it has been a successful one for the many talented youths that swam for WAVE Aquatics.

The long swimming season is finally coming to an end, but it has been a successful one for the many talented youths that swam for WAVE Aquatics.

The season capped off on a high note as Pacific Northwest Swimming (PNS), the local organization that WAVE swimmers compete in for regional tournaments, emerged victorious at the Western Zone Regional swim meet with 1,064 team points. The prestigious tournament, which was held the second weekend of August in Gresham, Ore., is reserved for the top youth swimmers in four regions of the United States — West, East, Central and South.

WAVE was formed 21 years ago when swim teams from Northshore, Redmond and Totem Lake merged in order to provide more opportunity and a stronger foundation for local swimmers. And now, WAVE is one of the strongest teams in the state, perennially producing championship-caliber athletes who aren’t strangers to success.

Emilie Kaufman, a member of the Juanita High girls swim team, represented WAVE last weekend at the 2008 Speedo Jr. National Championship, recognized as one of the most competitive national meets for swimmers 18 and under.

“Only a very small percent of people who swim ever make it to this level of competition,” said WAVE spokesperson Robin Burn. “It’s quite remarkable for someone that just began swimming competitively in high school.”

Kaufman was an accomplished synchronized swimmer before joining WAVE Aquatics.

WAVE swimmers Sage Speak, Nic Win, Zach Alleva and Leann Yee were all selected to represent PNS at the Western Zone Meet. The cut in order to make the PNS All-star team and earn a trip to zones was less than forgiving — out of the 4,500-plus PNS swimmers vying for a spot, less than 80 qualifying times were accepted as an invitation to Oregon.

Speak, a 12-year-old phenom who reached all of her goals for the season as far as qualifying times that would enable her to swim at the zone championships, performed at her peak during the PNS Championships, winning two gold medals and was never shut out during any event in her age division. At zones, she was on the PNS 200-meter freestyle A relay team in her age division that took second place; was on the 200-meter medley A relay team that took first place out of 14 teams; and individually, she took 10th out of 41 swimmers in the 50-meter breaststroke event.

Speak just started swimming for WAVE in April, after competing for years on the local Y team and yearning for more competition.

“Everyone’s super nice. I was nervous to go at first but made a lot of friends,” she said.

As for her favorite part about swimming for WAVE, she says it’s all about “having fun … meeting people that you swim against and get to learn more about them.”

When asked about whether her long-term goals in the sport involved swimming in college or the Olympics, the mature sixth-grader didn’t want to look too far ahead.

“Swimming is kinda just a hobby right now. I’m just trying to focus on the now and not worry about the future … that’s too far away.”

Yee, a 14-year-old ninth-grader at Kenmore Junior High, also swam a fantastic meet. After qualifying for the tournament by swimming a 28.56 50-meter freestyle, she contributed to a silver-medal performance in the 200 free relay; took ninth out of 37 swimmers in the 100-meter freestyle; and scored points in all of the freestyle events in her age division.

She started at age 7, taking lessons at the Juanita Pool, until one of the parents recommended to start a team with WAVE.

“I like making new friends, you get to meet new people from different schools, have fun and achieve greatness,” Yee said. “It’s really, really fun.”

Alleva contributed to his team’s 10th-place finish in the 200 medley relay, and added two top-15 finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke events.

Win, a 15-year-old swimming in the competitive 15/16 age group, had an remarkable fifth-place finish in the grueling 400-meter individual medley event.

Inglemoor High graduate Megan Caylor, who swam her way into the Olympic Trials for the 200-meter backstroke, placed first in the 15-and-over division of the same event.

According to Burn, WAVE’s outstanding performance is due in large part to the excellent work put in by head coach Jim Verdier to get his swimmers ready to compete at their highest level.