State swimming: K-M’s Bailey looking to make state waves

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Kent-Meridian’s Matthew Bailey was a standout last year at Kentridge High. This winter

Kent-Meridian’s Matthew Bailey was a standout last year at Kentridge High. This winter

Coming into this season, Kent-Meridian sophomore Matthew Bailey was hoping to swim his way into the Class 4A boys championship.

Bailey, who swam for Kentridge last season, said he was on the cusp of making it to state in the 200-yard individual medley as a freshman and thought he had a good chance of making it this year in that event or his other favorite, the 100 breaststroke.

But the idea of qualifying in the grueling 500 freestyle didn’t even cross his mind.

“I wasn’t (a distance swimmer) when I started out,” Bailey said. “I was trying to make the 100 breast, but my 500 free started picking up and here I am.”

Today, Bailey will compete in the 200 IM and the 500 free at the state meet, which began Thursday at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center. Bailey qualified for state two weeks ago at the district meet, where he posted state times of 2:04.73 in the 200 IM and 5:00.17 in the 500 free.

For Bailey, the state berth caps a season in which he went undefeated in South Puget Sound League 4A North dual meets. It also caps a career that spans back to 2000, when Bailey, then 8 years old, decided to first take the plunge competitively.

“I watched the 2000 Olympics, the ones in Sydney, and I just wanted to get in there and be just like them,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he started off with the King Aquatic Club, swimming out of the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, home of the Washington State high school swimming championships.

“It is kind of my home turf, I swim there everyday,” he said.

After seven years of club competition, Bailey turned out for the Kentridge swimming team, a perennial contender in the SPSL North.

Although he said he enjoyed his time as a Charger, he likes swimming for the Royals even more.

“At Kentridge, everything you do there, it’s expected that you do good,” Bailey said. “Here it’s more appreciated if you do good.”

This season Bailey, who averages about 25 hours a week in the water for his club and high school teams, said he was hoping that an increased turnout would translate into an improved Kent-Meridian team.

“We hoped to get one or two wins this season, which we didn’t quite get,” he said. “But I definitely saw some improvement from the guys. So I think next year, we’ll kind of surprise some people.”

“The last couple of years Kent Meridian has only had like four or five people on the team,” Bailey continued. “This year, there is 20 or 25 kids on the team.”

Bailey said that although he’s just a sophomore, he tries to help provide a little leadership for the rest of the team.

“I try to help guys out with their strokes,” Bailey said. “Or just try to motivate them. I just try to help out my team however I can.”

Bailey added that although embraces the team aspect of the sport, the real draw of the sport for him is the individual nature of swimming.

“I like to do my own thing and not worry about other people,” he said. “I like it also because you can always improve. In football, if you have an undefeated in a season, that’s all you can do. In swimming, you can always drop more time, you can always go faster.”

Which is exactly what he hopes to do today.

STATE SWIMMING: AT A GLANCE

• WHAT: Class 4A boys swim and dive meet.

• WHEN: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Diving prelims began at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The preliminaries begin at 1:45 p.m. today. Finals begin at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.

• WHERE: King County Aquatic Center.

• ADMISSION: One-day pass; Students with ASB, $7; Adults $9; Elementary school students $7; Senior citizens $7. Two-day pass; Students with ASB, $10; Adults $15; Elementary school students $10; Senior citizens $10.

• NOTABLE: Kent-Meridian’s Matthew Bailey capped his sophomore year with an undefeated season in the 200 IM and 500 free. He will compete in both events at the state meet. Kentwood sends its 200 medley relay team - Logan Ryan, Andrew Douglass, Alex Li and Matt Zietzke. Ryan also will compete in the 100 breast. Kentridge’s Luke Carpenter will compete in the diving competition.

— Shawn Skager/The Reporter


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