By Nathan Jendrick
FEDERAL WAY, Washington, December 12. THE Pacific Northwest Swimming (PNS) Championships took place this past weekend in Federal Way, Wash., and fans were offered the chance to watch some of the area’s and some of the nation’s fastest swimmers compete. The meet used an age-bracketed format for finals, with the Open-Age 'A' final referred to as each stroke’s "Super Final."
Some first-day highlights included Tacoma Swim Club's Nathan Adrian dominating the men's 100 freestyle in 45.23 and 16-year-old Emile Jennings of KING Aquatics winning the women's 100 freestyle in 50.57, slightly slower than her preliminary swim of 50.23. She bested her sister, Leona, who finished second in 51.81.
In the women's 200 freestyle relay, the ladies of KING Aquatics (Emile Jennings, Leona Jennings, Ariana Kukors and Megan Jendrick) took top honors with a 1:35.82. On the men's side, Tacoma Swim Club's contingent of Adrian, Cole Scarborough, Clinton Stipek and Jesse Stipek won in 1:26.16.
The water had no time to calm down from the relays when the first meet record was dropped – scratch that – crushed, by KING Aquatic ace-in-the-hole Ariana Kukors. Kukors took the 200 individual medley in 1:59.35, erasing the 2002 mark of 2:01.01 held by 2004 Olympian Dana Kirk. The men's IM was equally dominated, but more so in a team fashion than in record fashion. KING's Kevin Munsch, 15, finished first in 1:54.45, barely touching before teammate Erich Matulic who brought his last leg back faster – but not fast enough – to finish in 1:54.47. In third was Trent Staley, also of KING, in 1:54.74. Fourth was another KING member, Jon Hiett, in 1:54.93.
Finishing out the first night were the 100 breaststroke events, which were taken in fine form by their respective champions. KING’s Megan Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 100 breaststroke, swam a 1:01.21 preliminary time in the morning heats. Jendrick swam in this meet after just returning from an unrested appearance in Alabama at the US Open where she won the 200-meter breaststroke, finished second in the 100-meter event and was a member of the winning 400 medley relay.
Here at the King County Aquatic Center, she bested the field in under a minute, touching the wall in 59.94, just missing her own meet record of 59.80 set back in 2001 when she was known as Megan Quann. Jendrick, a professional athlete and member of Team Speedo, will compete for a third weekend in a row next week in Oklahoma City, at the Kerr-McGee Pro-Am. Trent Staley, a professional signed with Nike, who also swam at the US Open, will make the trip to compete in back-to-back-to-back weekends as well.
The men's 100 breaststroke was won by Jendrick's teammate, Jon Hiett, in 56.92 after a 1:00.80 morning swim. Hiett touched before Bellevue Club member Russell Mahan in 57.98.
Starting morning two were wins by the KING Aquatics women and men in their 200 medley relays, in 1:43.05 and 1:36.71, respectively. Next came the second meet record of the weekend for Ariana Kukors, and her third individual event of the meet (she also captured the 200 butterfly), when she broke Jamie Reid's meet record in the 200 backstroke. Kukors spent the least amount of time on her back and finished well ahead of the field in 1:58.07. Reid's mark was set in 2000 and stood at 1:58.44.
Another meet record was quick to fall as Megan Jendrick picked up the 200 breaststroke in 2:09.91, easily besting her own meet record from 2001 which had been the time to beat at 2:10.75. Emile Jennings won the women's 50 freestyle in 23.27, and KING Aquatics associate Andrew Merrell, bound for Brigham Young University, took the men's half in 20.85.
The third and final day of this year’s PNS Champs meet saw Emile Jennings take another freestyle title, this time the 200 distance in 1:50.81. Lauren Hall, of Salmon Bay, finished second in 1:51.77. In the men's 200 freestyle, Nathan Adrian and TSC teammate Jeremy Gregory teamed up to go 1-2 in the event, finishing in 1:38.64 and 1:42.87, respectively.
The women's "Super Final" in the 100 butterfly was won by 14-year-old Andie Taylor of Issaquah in 56.62. Nathan Adrian stepped back up to the blocks for the men's butterfly and had enough left and then some to win his second event of the night in 49.15. And, as if what she had done already wasn't enough, KING's Ariana Kukors won yet another event, and set yet another meet record. This time she took white-out to the record book and erased former Thunderbird Aquatic swimmer Rebecca Sturdy's name as the fastest swimmer to navigate 100-yards of backstroke. Sturdy held the record at 55.14, set back in 2002. Kukors destroyed that time, touching in 54.02.
Nathan Adrian showed his very similar versatility by taking another championship, the men's 100 backstroke (51.05), ahead of TSC's Jesse Stipek (51.60). Finishing the night off and the meet, the men and women of KING Aquatics won both of the 400 freestyle relay events, in 3:29.19 for the women and 3:12.64 for the men. The final team scores finished with KING Aquatics in first with 4,827 points, well ahead of Bellevue Club at 3,503. Cascade Swim Club finished third with 1,584. In total, 38 teams from various Pacific Northwest states competed in this meet.