Chelsea Bailey is a lot like J.J. Putz — only different.
The Kentlake High sophomore swim star and the Seattle Mariners relief pitcher both missed some action in their respective sports this summer with a similar kind of injured muscle. But that’s where the similarities end.
Even when Putz returned, he and the Mariners have had a hard time winning much of anything on the diamond. And Bailey?
Now that she’s back, Bailey has every intention of winning at least one state championship in the pool.
Back from a forced hiatus — albeit a brief one — that most swimmers find more aggravating than the injury from which they’re trying to heal, Bailey is primed to move from freshman phenom to sophomore sensation.
“Just that short three weeks (out of the water) was enough for me,” Bailey said. “I was supposed to be out for a little longer. But I went to physical therapy, and that allowed me to get in a little sooner.”
It was in an effort to make herself faster that Bailey wound up getting slowed down for a while.
“I was trying to strengthen my left side because it’s a little bit of my weaker side, and I did something wrong and tweaked a muscle. I injured an ab muscle,” Bailey explained. “I had to spend the night in ER.”
All healed up now?
“Swimwise, I’d like to think I’m 100 percent,” Bailey said. “But I can’t do pull-ups or weightlifting things.”
Swimwise is ultimately what matters most.
Bailey, whom some might mistake for a basketball player with her athletic 6-foot-2 frame (“I think I’ve stopped growing,” she said with a laugh) made a significant splash in 2007. She snared the silver medal in the 100-yard backstroke with an automatic All-American time of 56.94 — just 14 hundredths of a second behind another freshman Annemarie Thayer of Ballard.
Bailey also won the consolation finals of the 200 free, officially taking ninth place, but posting a time of 1:55.89 that would have been fifth in the finals. She preceded her state performance with a West Central District championship in the 100 back, and could have swum any event she wanted during the postseason, since she qualified for state in all eight, earning ironwoman status.
Bailey probably will take another shot at the backstroke, saying, “I’d like to bring home a first from state.”
But she indicated that her second event is in flux right now.
“I’d like to take a look at my choices,” she said. “I’ve been working a little bit on my IM, and I hope to bring that along, as well.”
While the time off wasn’t particularly fun for her, Bailey has, for the most part, put it in the past — thanks to some early-season success in the fast lane.
“Based off the first meet (the South Puget Sound League North Division opener against Kentwood on Sept. 11), I was able to improve a few of my times,” Bailey said.
“I definitely was feeling good.”
KR SENIORS GO FOR THE SWEEP
In their four years together, a whole lot of depth has added up to a whole lot of nothing for the seniors on the Kentridge girls swim team.
But it’s a good nothing:
Because this group has nothing in the loss column.
It’s true. While the Charger seniors haven’t won every individual race, they have won every South Puget Sound League North Division dual meet — 23 of them, to be precise, heading into their final seasons in KR colors.
“That’s kind of the neat thing about Kentridge: We really have depth,” said co-captain Kari Keller. Added Rachel Soley, a junior co-captain who’d love nothing more than to help her senior teammates go out undefeated, “Even if we don’t get first, we can still get 2-3-4 (and the 9-7 scoring edge that goes along with it).”
Kentridge, with co-coaches Brittney Jones and Erin Shultze at the helm this year after Ted Rychlik stepped down, heads into the 2008 season as the North Division favorite.
But along with traditional rival Kentwood, Jefferson is the team on which the Chargers are keeping a rather wary eye. The Chargers and Raiders square off on Oct. 9 at the King County Aquatic Center — one week after Kentridge and Kentwood get together for their annual showdown, this one in KR’s home pool on the Lindbergh High campus.
“Our toughest meet is going to be TJ. We’re all going to have to step it up,” Keller said.
“We know for sure TJ is going to be hard,” added Stephanie Giralmo, the other senior co-captain.
In addition to the solid senior corps — Mallary Flatley, Megan Sandall, Jessica Shinn and Megan Vermillion also have made key, consistent contributions to the string of dual-meet titles — Kentridge gets plenty of help from elsewhere. Jacqueline Do, a junior, swam in three West Central District finals last year — the 100 free and two relays. And a handful of ninth-graders figure to bolster that depth even further.
“We have a lot of new freshmen this year. A lot of them are very experienced (from club swimming) and very good,” Giralmo said.
Keller is eager — and a bit anxious, at the same time — to see how it all plays out.
“We’re still a little bit unsure of what our full capabilities are,” she said. “We have a lot of potential, but we need some good competition to pull it out. We’re hoping that once the girls see what it’s going to take to beat these teams, not only will our work ethic go up, but our drive to be the best will go up, as well.”
SPSL NORTH GIRLS SWIMMING: AT A GLANCE
• FAVORITE: Pick ’em.
• CONTENDERS: Kentridge, Jefferson.
• WATCH OUT FOR: Tahoma, Auburn Riverside, Kentwood.
• OUTLOOK: No one team • OUTLOOK: No one team seems to be particularly loaded, but there’s some genuine state-title talent in a couple of places, and some potential state qualifiers at several schools. Kentridge is always a contender because … well, it’s Kentridge, where depth is typically a strong suit. It figures to be again for the Chargers this year, with four swimmers who factored into the team’s state points last year — Jacqueline Do, Stephanie Giralmo, Kari Keller and Megan Sandall — all returning. Kentwood lost two-time state 200 IM champion Marley Prothero to graduation (she’s on scholarship at Nevada-Las Vegas) and head coach Mark Prothero to retirement. But the Conquerors are always knocking on the penthouse door, and more often than not, the dual-meet title comes down to them and KR. Kentlake starts off with state championship contender Chelsea Bailey, and that’s a great place to start, although the Falcons will need points from plenty of others to hang with that upper echelon of teams. Coach Dave Wright, who helped build the Kentridge juggernaut, is in his second year at Tahoma, so don’t be surprised if the Bears start to take on a similar trademark of finding success with depth. Auburn Riverside shared the SPSL 3A title with Enumclaw last year, the first aquatic crown of any kind — girls or boys — in the school’s 12-year history. Most of that Ravens team is returning.
• CIRCLE ON THE CALENDAR: Sept. 23 — Kentridge at Jefferson. Considered the prime contenders for the division title. Sept. 30 — Tahoma at Auburn Riverside. Up-and-coming Bears take on last year’s SPSL 3A co-champion. Oct. 2 — Kentwood at Kentridge. Usually the most anticipated dual of the season — and usually with title implications, too. Oct. 2 — Auburn at Kentlake. No guarantees it’ll happen, but wouldn’t it be fun if Auburn senior Trisha Averill and Kentlake sophomore Chelsea Bailey got to swim at least one high school race — any race — against each other?
— Mark Moschetti/For the Reporter
SWIMMERS TO WATCH
Sr. Trisha Averill Auburn
NOTABLE: Back in high school waters after taking junior year off; second in Class 3A 100 breaststroke as sophomore.
So. Chelsea Bailey Kentlake
NOTABLE: Took second at state in 100 back last year, made ironwoman, owns five school records.
Jr. Jacqueline Do Kentridge
NOTABLE: Swam in three district finals last year: the 100 free and two relays.
Jr. Shawna Jordan Auburn
NOTABLE: Won the Class 3A state diving title last year; formerly a high-level club gymnast.
Sr. Elizabeth Molloy Kentwood
NOTABLE: One of those solid, dependable types that every team needs; 15th at state in 100 back in 2007.
So. Rachel Reese Tahoma
NOTABLE: Made a nice splash as a freshman, taking 11th at state in the 100 back.