The schedule makers didn’t do Sehome’s Grace Kim any favors at the Class 2A girls’ state swimming and diving championships. The junior’s events bookended the meet – two at the start and two at the end, making for quite a hectic scramble with a long intermission in between. “At least I get to relax about halfway through the meet,” Kim said.
Physically, it was demanding, having to compete against the state’s top swimmers with little time between races. Mentally, however, it may have given Kim an edge.
“It’s stressful,” Kim said about the time leading up to a race, “but with the schedule this way I can just go out there and swim and not think about anything. I’ll swim, and by the time the next race happens all the nerves are out because I haven’t had time to think about it.”
Despite the busy agenda, Kim shined at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way on November 10-11, placing among the top 5 in two individual events, while helping the Mariners finish 10th overall as a team.
“I felt really awesome being out here,” Kim said. “Our team is so close. We all have so much fun and I just love the environment here. Everyone is so nice, even if you are competing against them.”
Kim and the Mariners opened the state finals by placing fifth in the 200 medley relay. She was joined by sophomores Joyce Kim and Sarah Leung and fellow junior Marianna Kemp on the squad, which knocked a full second off its preliminary time in the finals, finishing the event in 1:56.54.
Kim then claimed a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM with a time of 2:17.41 before grabbing third place in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.77).
She rounded out the meet by joining Joyce Kim, Leung and Kemp in finishing 12th in the 400 freestyle relay (3:57.46).
“She is just a ball of energy,” Sehome coach Don Helling said about Kim. “She’s matured a lot as an athlete since her first two years here. She’s more thoughtful and focused and training harder than she ever has and it’s playing off, and that’s exactly the movement I want to see out of our swimmers here. She’s definitely one of the team leaders.”
Sehome, which also received an eighth-place finish from Joyce Kim in the 100 backstroke (1:01.92), finished with 90 total points. Liberty of Renton won the team title with 298 points – 50 more than any other program.
Lynden freshman Sara Jones finished 14th in the 40 free (26.11). Bellingham junior Avey Bathum finished 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.89), while teammate Carley Preator was the only freshman to place among the top 10 in the diving, finishing ninth overall with a score of 269.40.
Prior to the start of the finals, former Sehome swimmer Megan Thompson was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Thompson, who graduated in 1994, helped the Mariners to one state team title and three second-place finishes. She also won the 3A state title in the 100 backstroke in 1990, 1992 and 1993, and was a member of five Sehome relay teams which captured state championships.
“Megan is our first swimmer from Sehome and just the second swimmer from Bellingham to be induced into the Hall of Fame,” said Helling, who coached Thompson. “She joins John Wilson, who was a swimmer at Bellingham in the 1960s. So it’s pretty exciting for our program.”
Squalicum’s Yanran Le Doubles Down at the 3A State Meet
Squalicum’s Yanran Le was a dual state champion at the Class 3A state meet, winning the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke.
The senior won the 200 IM with a time of 2:05.42, which was nearly two seconds ahead of any other swimmer. She later added her second state crown by winning the 100 breast, stopping the clock in an All American Consideration (AAC) time of 1:03.18.
Yanran, who will swim next year at Columbia University, finished second in the 100 breast last year and entered the state meet after setting the 3A Northwest District Meet record in the event.
Squalicum junior Helene Synnott finished second in the 1-meter diving event, narrowly missing out on claiming a state championship. Synnott posted a final score of 395.65. Snohomish freshman Kayli Kersavage won the event with a score of 395.80, while Bellevue senior Sarah Walsh was third (395.50).