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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Tarik Kurta leads special day for Fort Vancouver swimmers at 2A-1A state meet

Senior places second in the 50 freestyle, third in 100 freestyle

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: February 17, 2024, 9:30pm
5 Photos
Tarik Kurta of Fort Vancouver shakes the hand of his coach Sarah Dunn on the podium after finishing second in the 50 freestyle at the 2A boys swimming state championship meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.
Tarik Kurta of Fort Vancouver shakes the hand of his coach Sarah Dunn on the podium after finishing second in the 50 freestyle at the 2A boys swimming state championship meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

FEDERAL WAY – Tarik Kurta’s last high school swim meet finished with a pair of top-3 finishes.

But that wasn’t the best part of the Class 2A-1A boys swimming state meet Saturday for Kurta.

The best part was that his final race for Fort Vancouver High School was a victory.

On the anchor leg of the 200-yard free relay, Kurta chased down four other swimmers to propel the Trappers to a victory in the consolation final.

22 Photos
Aiden Jensen swims the butterfly leg in the 200 medley relay for Ridgefield at the 2A boys swimming state championship meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.
State boys swimming 2024 Photo Gallery

“Today was great,” Kurta said. “Swimming fast, working hard with my teammates, just having fun with them. Then placing second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Kurta got Saturday started by shaving .04 seconds off his qualifying time to finish second in the 50 freestyle in 21.54 seconds.

The senior couldn’t shave time off his 100-free time, placing third in 48.38 seconds.

Then he capped his day with a ninth-place finish in the 200 free relay with teammates Andrew Walczyk, Christian Paez and Braydon Johnson.

Kurta had placed at the state meet before, but this was the first time he got to swim in a relay with his Fort teammates.

“It’s awesome,” Kurta said. “Fort doesn’t have many (state-level) sports, and it’s great to represent Fort. I just love Fort. It’s one of the best schools in my opinion.”

The Trappers had special “state team” swim caps made out for this weekend. Fort was the top local team in the 2A standings, placing 16th with 60 points.

“We have had a great meet,” Fort swim coach Sarah Dunn said. “Everyone has posted lifetime bests this weekend, which is more than you can hope for when it comes down to state. Because we had to taper last week for district just to make it here. So to come back the next week and try to get best times, that’s the dream, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

Dunn said with Kurta leading the way, boys swimming has grown into one of the more popular sports at Fort Vancouver. The Trappers boasted 20 swimmers on the roster this winter.

“His influence on this team has been really fundamental,” Dunn said. “A lot of the swimmers really look up to him. He’s brought a lot of guys onto the team. It’s been a great four years that I’ve been able to coach him.”

Fort even qualified a relay for the consolation finals in 400 free relay with a team that did not have Kurta on it. The Trappers finished 15th in the 400 free relay.

“I chose not to put Tarik on the 400 free relay to let him have a little more rest for his other events,” Dunn said. “I put an alternate, Evan Frank, on the team. He did great, and we made the top (15), which is really exciting. So that just shows that for next year, even though Tarik is graduating, we still have some strong juniors and maybe we’ll be back at state next year.”

In other events, Ridgefield junior Lincoln Swift cut nearly three seconds off his qualifying time Friday to move up two spots and place fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:06.32).

Swift was also part of Ridgefield’s 200 medley relay team that opened the meet by placing sixth. Swift with Dylan Nguyen, Aiden Jensen and Nathan Kim clocked in 1:47.69.

Colin Graeme of Seton Catholic reached the podium in the 100 butterfly, placing eighth in 56.32 seconds.

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