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Swimmers Fastest in Season Finale

At last week’s MIL championships, Molokai’s swimmers were faster than they’ve been all season—and everyone noticed.

“They’re doing stuff they’ve never done before mentally and physically,” said Head Coach Jess Ford. “The officials and the other coaches, they were like, ‘We saw your kids. They swam so good.’”

On Friday, MIL swimmers competed in preliminary heats before moving on to the final competition on Saturday. Five Molokai boys and two girls made it to the final rounds, competing with the top eight swimmers in the league in each category. Senior Luke Kikukawa was the only Molokai swimmer to officially medal, winning bronze in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of two minutes and 20.22 seconds.

Ford said that many of the times her swimmers posted were season bests.

“The improvements our team made were how we perfected our timing with each other on our take offs and pushed hard to get faster,” said senior Tanner Mosher.

Genevieve Kikukawa came in sixth in the league in the 500-meter freestyle, finishing in 6:27.11. Kikukawa also came in seventh in the 100-meter backstroke (1:16.29). Michelle McGuire also qualified for the final round and came in eighth overall in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:21.38).

For the boys, Keao Ross came just shy of a medal in the 50-meter freestyle, finishing in fourth in 24.32 seconds. Michaiah Soares finished in 24.83 seconds in the same event. Ross also came in seventh in the 100-meter freestyle (55.37). Kikukawa was fourth in the 500-meter freestyle (5:48.69), while Kahale Ramos took sixth in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:16.86) with teammate Mosher not far behind in eighth (1:22.26).

After Kamehameha Maui was disqualified by officials in the 200-meter freestyle relay and 200-meter medley relay, Molokai was awarded third place medals. However, technical difficulties with the pool’s touchpad system prompted officials to reinstate Kamehameha’s third-place status.

“When it’s considered a ‘meet management error,’ you give the benefit of the doubt to the swimmers, which ended up not working out in our favor,” said Ford.

However, Ford and her swimmers were more than happy with their personal improvements, which was made all the more impressive given that Molokai only compete three months out of the year, while most MIL swimmers compete year round.

“I’m proud of the girls relay team for dropping times as well as newcomers who gave their best effort,” said Soares, also a senior. “I’m also proud of the both men’s relay teams for … getting consideration cuts which topped the previous years’ times.”

The boys’ have posted strong consideration times for the state competition on Feb. 20-21, and the team should find out by the end of the week whether they’ve qualified for states, added Ford. Meanwhile, the girls came just shy of state qualification.

“I’m really excited about how far the girls have come along and how close they are to qualifying at the state meet,” said Ford. “As far as swimming aggressively, it was off the chain. … Everybody got into their pain threshold and embraced it.”

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