Ed Shepherd
Hannah Tittel of Arbor Heights getting ready to spring off the blocks for the start of the girls 13-14 50 yard breaststroke final at All City. She took fourth place overall, and, was the only swimmer from the Southern Division seven teams to make the final in the event.

Arbor Heights Swim finishes 15th in All City meet

By Ed Shepherd
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

Although not finishing high overall as a team, there were still some good swims which buoyed Arbor Heights' Otters to some top three finishes at the All City Championships for the Seattle Summer Swim League at Gregory Seahurst's pool on Tuesday.

"It gets competitive at this level, but we are getting there," said Arbor Heights head coach Chris Veraya, whose team finished 15th among the 16 teams competing from the Northern and Southern SSSL Divisions at All City.

Veraya looked past that, just noting, "We're looking forward to more kids in there next summer and we are going to go for one of those trophies."
The top six teams get a trophy at All City.

Veraya's emphasis was on the team's regular season of dual meets which was one of the best finishes of any of the SSSL Southern Division teams, spanning from Federal Way to Normandy Park to Kent and Renton.

"We came off a great 5-2 season," said Veraya.

No one on the team impressed individually better than Jeff Kasahara for the Otters, as he took third place in the boys 15 and over 50 yard breaststroke in 28.68. Now, third place is not really that impressive but putting things in perspective puts a different impression in one's head regarding Kasahara's finish.
"I'm only 16," said Kasahara of this age group that pits 15 year olds against 18 year olds. So when one realizes that Kasahara's age was a factor in his placement, including the first place swimmer being an 18-year-old, that changes things.

"It's kind of fun to see I am faster than some of them," said Kasahara. "I still have more years to improve. The guy who took first is 18, and, I think, he might have broke it."
He did break "it", setting a new All City record in the 50 breast, with "he" being Keith Schendel of View Ridge Swim Club in North Seattle, who finished in 26.98. So, Kasahara has a couple years to go after that record.

"I'm about two seconds off the All City record," said Kasahara.

So, Kasahara is pretty good and only going to get better in the years ahead.
"He's pretty good," said Hannah Tittel, who swam well individually at All City herself as well as being a member of the third place girls 13-14 200 freestyle relay team.

And Naomi Williams, who swam a leg of the 200 free as well with Tittel said, too, "He's fast. He works out all the time."

Kasahara got in his accolades, too, of Tittel, Williams, and their swimming, too.
"They are really fast," said Kasahara.

Kasahara gets help from his Otters' coaches like Veraya and that only makes him faster.
"He is always there to help me work on things I need improvement on," said Kasahara. "He gives me drills to help me fix things and know what to work on."
Veraya pointed out that some of the younger swimmers did well in their age brackets a little older than themselves.

"Some of our younger swimmers in the age groups really stepped up," said Veraya.

In the 13-14 year old boys 200 medley and free relays, Arbor Heights took third place. Ty Lindblom and Benjamin Kinerk comprised the younger swimmers, age 13, along with 14 year olds Brendan Stoll and Anthony Giomi, as they finished the medley in 1:58.18 and the free in 1:43.80.

"We had some good relay thirds," said Veraya.

Also, in on the thirds action, as previously mentioned, the Otters' Tittel and Williams, along with Vivian Voth and Sophia Minor, who altogether took third in the 13-14 girls 200 free in 1:50.44.

"We didn't drop time, but we held the third place seed," said Tittel, whose same team also took fourth in the 200 medley relay in 2:05.39.

"The Northern teams were a lot better."

Also, at All City, the 8 and under boys team of Jack Henzke, Drew Velling, Jake Hartog and Tyler Sunderlund took fifth in the 100 free relay in 1:13.92 and fourth place in the 100 medley relay in 1:09.48.

Velling took sixth place individually in the 25 butterfly in 20.62.

And, getting first place, second or third, does it really matter? Not really.
"No, it doesn't mean a lot, we still did our best," said Tittel.

And Cassidy Wells, 12, participated at All City and she said how things went for her. Things went well despite things not going well.

"Last place," said Wells. "But no matter which place you get, it's still great."
Great to get to All City?

"That's the good thing," said Wells.

And her 200 medley relay team made it to All City, too, with teammates, Alena Slee, Sofia Libao and Keaton Dickinson, all on that team that went 2:15.58.
And, they took what place?

"Last again," said Wells, adding, keeping a big smile, "But we still made it to All City."

Also at All City, individually, Stoll took fourth in the 50 free in 25.15 and Lindblom took sixth in the 50 back in 31.11. Gabby Carufel took sixth place in the girls 15 and over 50 back in 29.74.

All City is what the goal is for all these Southern Division swimmers, in a general sense, as they all go through seven regular season dual meets during the season. The Northern Division has nine teams. Then it's prelims qualifications that begins the postseason. At prelims, a lot are weeded out for the next meet, Southerns. And, from that meet, only the top six combined times of the Northern and Southern Divisions go on to All City where its best versus best.

And Ann Webber-Bruya, who coaches under Veraya and herself swam in All City for a number of years before topping past the 18 year old cut-off age, said that the swimmers for Arbor Heights did great despite the numbers game not being in their favor at All City.

"We don't have as many swimmers as the other teams here," said Webber-Bruya, with that number being 26 swimmers who qualified at All City of the 150-plus that swim for the Otters during the dual meet season. "But everyone is having fun. A lot of our swimmers don't swim all the time (year round swim clubs) but they still do really good."