Richmond makes history

HONOLULU – With a shot at history, Renny Richmond fell just a second short.

Instead, he’ll have to “settle” for six state championships.

The Seabury Hall senior set his sights on doing something no other Maui Interscholastic League boy swimmer had ever done – win seven individual state titles. The accomplished swimmer narrowly missed, claiming a fourth straight gold medal in the 100-yard butterfly after placing second in the 200 freestyle at the OC16 Swimming and Diving State Championships.

“I tried to get seven, but I lost the 200, so I got six, but I’m still happy with that,” said Richmond, whose victory was the lone one for the MIL on a windy and sunny afternoon at Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex on the University of Hawaii campus.

Richmond led throughout the 100 fly, sailing to the wall in his signature event in a time of 48.81 seconds, well ahead of runner-up Kevin Frifeldt of Mililani (50.07) and third-place finisher Anson Tam of Kalani (51.94). Richmond’s time was off the state meet record of 47.75 he set last season – Richmond said he regretted taking off a few months from training after the U.S. Olympic trials, a time he used to visit colleges – but the University of Arizona-bound standout was happy to show continued improvement as he swam his fastest time of the year.

“I’m glad to see 48 again,” said Richmond, who stood out from the crowd, sporting a pair of bright red trunks among the scores of black suits. “It’s definitely the best I’ve felt all year. I’m happy with what I’ve done.”

With his six individual titles, Richmond ties the MIL record for boy swimmers already shared by Baldwin’s Cheyne Bloch and Lahainaluna’s Jake Pope. Former Seabury runner Tia Ferguson holds the all-sport MIL record, with seven individual girls state titles.

By the final 50 yards of the competitive 200 free, the four swimmers in the middle of the pool – Richmond, Kamehameha Kapalama’s Ryan Stack and Kale Ai and Kalaheo’s Jacob Urbano – had pulled away by more than a body length from the rest of the field. After the final turn, Stack edged ahead of his rivals, leaving the other three to fight it out for second place. In one of the tightest finishes of the day, Richmond touched in 1:40.91, just in front of Ai (1:41.02) and Urbano (1:41.62). Stack won in 1:39.80.

Despite his silver-medal finish, Richmond wasn’t satisfied with the result.

“I really wanted to see a 39 again or something like that, but I mean, it is what it is,” he said.

Happy with his runner-up finish was Mika Kane. The Kamehameha Maui junior was the top qualifier in the 100 backstroke in the preliminaries on Friday, edging out Hawaii Swim Club teammate Makoa Alvarez of Campbell. Alvarez got the better of Kane in the final, though, winning in 52.10. Kane touched in 54.39.

“At this meet, I don’t really think it’s about time, it’s about the medal. So me placing second, racing a fast guy like him, I’m stoked,” said a beaming Kane, pointing to his friend on the top of the podium. “We’ve been best friends for a long time, so me and him we’ve always been archrivals for this event. He got me this time.

“Next year”

Kane was one of four Maui swimmers to make the final in the event. His Warriors teammate Kyle Mauri finished fourth (55.52), Maui Prep’s Sebastian Buenrostro Gallimore was sixth (56.41) and Baldwin’s Maverick Donohue was eighth (58.10).

“We got a lot of potential. We might be a lot smaller than Oahu, but we got a lot of fast guys on Maui,” Kane said. “We’re coming up, and we’re going to show ’em what we’re all about.”

Baldwin’s Jonah Hu (100 breaststroke) and Maui Prep’s Sky Hirsch (100 free) each earned third-place finishes.

Hirsch, who also placed sixth in the 50 free, posted a time of 47.00 seconds to take the bronze in the 100.

“I went really fast, everyone just went for it. It was crazy,” he said.

The wind didn’t affect much of what was going on in the pool, but out of it was a different story. Gusts forced the removal of tents and sent a chair into the water during a break in competition – and almost caused Hirsch to have a mishap.

“When I got up on the block, I almost fell off the block,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t grab on yet and it almost blew me off.”

The MIL’s top girls finisher was Maui Prep’s Danielle Jefferies, who fell short of defending her state title in the 100 fly, finishing fourth in 59.99.

Kamehameha Kapalama won the boys team title with 60 points. Punahou (47) placed second and Mililani (22) third. Seabury (18) was fourth.

Mid-Pacific was the girls team champion with 54.5 points, followed by Kealakehe (38.5) and Punahou (37). Maui Prep and MIL champion Baldwin tied for 16th with two points.

The Bears’ points came from two fifth-place finishes by Sheila Altura, in the 50 free and 100 fly.

“She’s like a bullet when she swims,” Baldwin coach Laura Lipp said of the senior. “She’s so excited to swim every time. She loves the sport and everything about it.”

The MIL champion Baldwin boys placed seventh in the team standings with 11 points, helped by a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. In the free, the Bears (1:29.31) edged Seabury (1:29.45) but fell short of their goal of beating the all-Maui record of 1:28.17 set by the Spartans two weeks before at the league championships.

“It wasn’t good enough to get the MIL record, but it was still a really good time for us,” Lipp said. “Our boys have been swimming very relaxed. The competition is really pushing them to swim their best times.”

Five state meet records were broken, including two by Punahou junior Jasmine Mau. With her time of 2:01.78, she eclipsed the previous 200 individual medley record of 2:03.80 set by Kaiser’s Ashley Swart in 2002. Mau then smashed a record that had been in place for more than three decades, finishing the 100 fly in 52.78. The previous mark was 55.21, set in 1979 by Punahou’s Kathy Shipman.

Other record-setters Saturday were the Kamehameha Kapalama boys 200 and 400 free relay teams (1:24.56, 3:06.69) and Island Pacific’s Austin Hirstein (boys 100 breast, 55.91).