PTHS swim team wins state academic championship

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“State champions” has a nice ring to it, whether the title is earned in athletic competition, or academically in the classroom.

The Port Townsend High School swim and dive team has won the state Class 1A academic championship for 2016. Ten varsity girls on the team have an accumulative grade point average of 3.508 for the fall term.

“I am proud of the swimmers and their efforts in the classroom, in the pool, and as representatives of our high school,” said Scott Wilson, PTHS assistant principal and athletic director. “Peter Braden has done an outstanding job of building a strong swimming program based on character and hard work.”

It's the first academic state championship at PTHS since the girls' swim program won in 2011.

Port Townsend is the only school from the 1A Olympic League or 1A Nisqually League to be represented in the 2016 WIAA Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires Scholastic Awards Program Fall Team Academic State champions. Thirty-six teams in seven sports won fall academic awards.

Technically, the WIAA award is based on 10 swimmers who are PTHS students. However, PTHS officials want the entire team honored for academic excellence, Wilson noted.

The swim team includes students enrolled full-time and part-time at Port Townsend High School and six from Chimacum High School. Because Chimacum does not offer swimming, the program is a "combined" sport rather than a "cooperative," meaning the CHS athletes swim and score for PTHS, even in the post-season. This is different than wrestling or cross-country, for example, when CHS students are part of the PTHS team during the regular season, but score points for Chimacum in the post-season.

"The Chimacum kids deserved to be recognized as well," Wilson said of the swim team's academic honor. "They are part of the team. I am not into exclusion."

Same goes for the Running Start students (two of them full-time), who may not have been part of the official WIAA submission.

Peter Braden, PTHS coach and a PT elementary school teacher, likes the idea that the whole team is honored.

"We think it's pretty cool," Braden said, noting that the team's accumulative GPA would probably be even higher if the Chimacum and Running Start student numbers were calculated.

According to Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader records, past PTHS academic team championships include the girls' swim team in 2011 and 2008, boys’ basketball in the 2008-09 season, boys’ soccer in 2005 and 2006, girls’ soccer in 2006 and 1996, girls’ basketball in 1996-97, and girls’ golf in 1992, 1993 and 1997.

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