SWIMMING: Tarvestad earns a gold in her former home (07/26)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

Kate Tarvestad returned to her former home to garnish a gold medal Thursday, while Mary Charlotte Pepper stayed at home to secure a silver.

The Elizabethtown Dolphins former teammates started the Swimville USA/Caretenders Kentucky Swimming Long Course State Championship at E-town Swim & Fitness Center with a bang, with Tarvestad winning the girls’ open 1,500-meter freestyle championship in 18:02.63 and Pepper placing second in 18:30.73.

Tarvestad, a rising sophomore at North Oldham High School, swam for the Dolphins in her second through sixth grade years when she attended St. James School.

Her new team, Louisville-based Triton Swimming, competes in at least two meets a year at ESFC, so it didn’t take Tarvestad long to get reacclimated to her old digs.

“I really like this pool and I’m really used to it,” Tarvestad said. “It’s easy to perform well in a place you know.”

Pepper entered as the favorite with a seed time of 18:15.33. However, Tarvestad’s seed time 19:17.40 was from a meet in early June on a weekend in which she was mentally exhausted from taking the ACT.

“Kate’s a very talented swimmer,” said Dolphins coach Mavi Sampaio, who coached Tarvestad for two seasons before she moved. “She has beaten M.C. the entire year in long-distance events, so I don’t know why she wasn’t seeded better. Maybe she didn’t have times for long-course events.”

Pepper is entered in nine other individual events plus three relays over the next three days, so she has plenty of other chances at a gold medal.

“You know, you win some, you lose some. It wasn’t my best, but I’m OK with the way I swam,” said Pepper, who said losing to a former teammate did little to lessen the blow of coming so close to gold. “Oh, it still sucks. But it’s all right because she came in better prepared than me. She deserved to win.”

Sampaio said he harbored no animosity or ill will toward Tarvestad or her younger brother Will, another former Dolphin who signed at last week’s 12-under state meet in Louisville.

“I’m happy when they swim well and I don’t want them to swim bad just because they left here,” Sampaio said. “They left here because of their parents’ jobs. It wasn’t their choice. So they’re still good friends of ours and good friends of the program.

“Now sure we want our swimmers to beat her,” added Sampaio. “But that’s not what we practice for. We swim for our own improvement.”

Four other Dolphins were in action Thursday in the 1,500 free. Emma Godfrey (19:44.31) was 10th in the girls’ 13-14, Hayden Sosh (19:06.87) was 10th in the boys’ 13-14, Ben Godfrey (19:09.35) was 11th in the boys’ 13-14 and Isaac Lewis (19:25.73) was 22nd in boys’ open.

The state meet features more than 300 competitors from more than 20 teams.

Today’s events are the 100 breaststroke, 200 free, 100 butterfly, 400 individual medley and the 400 free relay.

Saturday’s events are the 200 fly, 50 free, 200 breast, 100 backstroke, 400 free and the 400 medley relay.

Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com.