By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
They began swimming together when they were 8 years old, and it was easy for them to get along because they were each starting from the same spot.
“We were all really, really bad,” Cody Hamane said.
Sink or swim with Warrior Aquatic Club, they chose the latter.
Ryan Bisel, Jordan Kamimura and Hamane are all accomplished now as Hilo High upperclassmen, which has done nothing to change one constant theme through the years.
“We are all really, really close,” Hamane said. “We all like to just race. Friendly spirit of competition is the way we think about it.
“We’ve all come a pretty long way. We’ve had a lot of great coaches to help mold us. We look at ourselves as equals.”
So much so that Vikings coach Jon Hayashida let the trio decide at the beginning of the year which events they’d compete in, a proposal of sorts for him to choose from leading up to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championships.
Hilo hosts the final meet of the regular season at 10 a.m. today, and BIIFs are Feb. 1-2 at Kamehameha.
“I don’t exactly know what events they’ll swim,” Hayashida said. “Which makes it fun.”
Of course, he may figure there’s no way he can go wrong. Hilo’s problem may be quantity, but it’s certainly not quality.
Bisel, Kamimura and Hamane have been Hilo boys swimming this season. Practices have been sparse yet competitive, according to Hayashida, as they try to push each other.
“Hopefully, they’ll all win two individual events each (at BIIFs),” Hayashida said. “I don’t let them in the water if they don’t plan on winning.
“I doubt we win the team championship, but we’ll make a mark like we did last year.”
In 2013, they combined to win five individual races and each had a hand as Hilo won all three relay golds. Kamimura, a junior, is the two-time defending champion in the 100-yard butterfly and he added the 500 freestyle title last year. Bisel, a senior, broke through in the 200 individual medley and backstroke, while Hamane, a senior, claimed his first crown in the 200 free.
While the Vikings dominated the podium, Waiakea rode its superior depth to win its second straight team title.
A similar scenario could be on tap this year. Hamane has the best time this season on the island in the butterfly (54.13 seconds) and 200 free (149.54), while Bisel has set the pace in the breaststroke (1:01) — 2013 Hilo graduate Christian Kubo is the reigning champion in the event — 200 IM (1:49.84) and backstroke (55.46). However, the Vikings haven’t been able to partake in relays, though that is expected to change today when Kenneth Kitahata, also a basketball player, competes.
Relays not only allow teams to rack up points, but Hamane calls them one of his favorite aspects of the sport.
“Basically, the fact that we train together, we put all this work in together, it’s just fun to have it all come together,” Hamane said. “It makes an individual sport — that can honestly be a little lonely at times — a team sport.
“It’s where the teamwork comes in.”