By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
During a good week, Kealakehe’s Madison Hauanio, Leahi Camacho and Cara Jernigan head to Kona Community Aquatic Center on most afternoons to practice for two hours. They swim roughly 5,000-6,000 yards each time.
There’s pool time early in the morning, too, around three times a week. Then they have strength training. Hauanio, Camacho and Jernigan have been doing the same regimen for years.
“They go into these meets pretty tired,” coach Steve Borowski said.
But they never get uninterested and rarely show a lack of focus. Borowski, who’s been coaching for 40-plus years, has a way of keeping things fresh so his swimmers don’t get burnt out even though they spend so much time in the water.
“We train a lot differently than most teams,” Camacho said. “We don’t use equipment. A lot of pace, more thinking in your swimming and that carries over to your races. I think equipment is too complicated. Having to think, not just mindlessly, makes it more interesting.”
Borowski says burnout is a mental problem not a physical one. He wants his swimmers to strive for different individual goals during the year, but not worry about reaching their best time each time out.
“We don’t go too hard, but we train just enough to keep us in shape and taper for the big meets,” Jernigan said.
Hauanio, Camacho and Jernigan, worked as hard as usual this week. The “Big 3,” as Borowski calls them, aren’t tapering for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championships. They will slow down as they gear up for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association meet Feb. 16.
The Waveriders are as strong at the top as any girls team in the BIIF, but with only 10 swimmers, depth could be an issue as they seek to repeat their title. The trials are 3:30 p.m. today at Kamehameha with the championships at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I think we’re a little shy (in numbers),” Borowski said.
As a freshmen three years ago at Kamehameha, Hauanio burst on to the scene by winning the 200 individual medley as the Waveriders surprised Punahou for their first state title. She’ll close her BIIF career back at Naeole Pool and look to defend her league title in a 200 IM field that also will include Camacho. Hauanio, who’s won at least one individual title at each BIIF finals, will try to double up in the 100 backstroke, an event she was runner-up in last season.
“It really did fly by really fast,” she said. “It’s sad leaving high school. I’m going to miss it and my team, but I’m ready for the next step and I hear it’s a lot of fun.”
BIIFs and states will give her a couple of last chances to impress college coaches. She and Borowski have sent out letters and hope to start narrowing down college scholarship opportunities soon.
Hauanio has kept in touch with Alyssa Foo, a teammate on the 2010 title team who swims at the University of Hawaii.
“Alyssa said college swimming is really fun, so I’m just excited to be on a college team,” Hauanio said.
Camacho, a junior, is the distance swimmer of the bunch. She won the 500 freestyle and the 100 butterfly at BIIFs last season, and backed that up with a strong distance performance at a state age group meet on Oahu in December.
“I’ve always been into distance,” she said “I‘ve tried working on my speed, working on my speed. But distance is where it’s at for me. I feel the 500 is more about strategy.”
In fact, she’d have no problem if BIIF races were even longer. Camacho tends be get stronger at the longer age group meets.
“A 1,000 would be perfect for me (at BIIFs),” she said. “I’m more of a back-half swimmer.”
Jernigan, a junior, doesn’t own a BIIF title, but that could change if she performs the way she did at the age group meet when she finally bested Waiakea’s Madisyn Uekawa in the 100 breaststroke. Uekawa is the three-time BIIF champion in that event.
“Huge improvement,” Borowski said.
“I did a lot of my best times at (age group) in December,” said Jernigan, who’s also set to compete in the 200 freestyle. “Hopefully I can do that in a high school (meet).
“We’ll try our best, but ultimately the goal is the (HHSAA) meet.”
All three swimmers will team up with Sarah Somsanquansit to make the Waveriders among the favorites in the 200 IM relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
There are three relay events, and each is worth double points.
“We can win two of the three relays,” Borowski said. “If Waiakea gets disqualified in one, something could happen to give us a chance.”