Every fraction of a second mattered for ’Riders


The high school swimming and diving season came to a close at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state meet Feb. 15-16 at Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Center, and Kealakehe High’s girls team ended on a high note, placing second.

Two weeks prior, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation held the BIIF championships at Kamehameha-Hawaii, and Kealakehe defended its girls swim title, finishing ahead of Hawaii Prep and Waiakea.

With just four swimmers, the Kealakehe boys placed fourth, and Waverider freshman Hoyt Thomas flew over to Oahu to compete in the state tournament.

The Kealakehe girls, coached by Steve Borowski and Wendy Smith, sent five girls to the state tournament. Knowing the records from years prior, the team knew it needed to place high in each event to earn enough points to finish ahead of Punahou and Mid-Pacific. The girls’ main goal was to swim like they had practiced and to just have fun.

Right from the start, the girls seemed to be on fire. During the preliminary events on the first day of the meet, the five swimmers recorded personal bests in each event they entered. Senior Madison-Gail Hauanio set a school record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.96 seconds.

In the finals, the girls started the day with the 200 medley relay, and the team of junior Leahi Camacho, Hauanio, junior Cara Jernigan and sophomore Sarah Somsanquansit swam the relay in 1:49.62 to earn a bronze medal and a new school record.

The day only got better for the girls. Camacho tied for second in the 500 freestyle, and Hauanio took third in the 100 backstroke. In the 200 freestyle relay, Kealakehe placed first with a time of 1:38.70 and set a new school record. Freshman Madeline Foo placed sixth in the 500 freestyle.

In the 100-yard breaststroke, Jernigan finished first with a time of 1:05.00. Immediately following her event, Jernigan anchored the 400-yard freestyle relay, and Kealakehe won the event with a time of 3:36.51, beating Punahou by two hundredths of a second — just what the Waveriders (38.5 points) needed to pull ahead of Punahou (37) in the team standings and place second. Mid-Pacific won the state title with 54.5 points.

With time ticking and the girls’ plane leaving soon after the awards ceremony, Borowski left the swim complex to drive the team van closer to the exit in order to save time. Little did Borowski know, his girls needed to make room for a trophy in their carry-on luggage.

“I was sitting in the car wondering what was taking them so long when I finally spotted them coming towards the van,” Borowski recalled. “When they ran up they were all very excited. That’s when I noticed Madison was holding a trophy. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Kealakehe’s girls swim team, which also won a state championship in 2010, has collected its school’s only two HHSAA state tournament trophies. In case you were wondering, the team made it to the airport in time to catch its flight back home.

Congratulations to the Kealakehe girls and all who competed in the HHSAA swimming and diving state meet. You are all incredible athletes.

The racing fun continues this weekend.

Frozen Pea Productions will hold its Zoomin’ Zak Plunge and Plod Biathlon Sunday at 8 a.m. Hawaiian time next to Kailua Pier. This race includes a half-mile swim in Kailua Bay and a 3.9-mile run along Alii Drive. There will also be a short course that features a 200-yard swim and a one-mile run for anyone who would like to participate. As always, snorkels, masks, fins and swim rings are all allowed on the swim course. On the run course, strollers and joggers are welcome at this free community event.

On March 9, the Run for Hops will take place at 7:30 a.m., with the start and finish at the BMW dealership on Loluku Street in Kailua-Kona. The event will include a 5K run/walk and a 10K run, with a keiki bike rodeo following the races. To register, sign up in person at Bike Works Kona or register online at konabrewersfestival.com/run.

Hope to see you all out there. Until next time, happy training.