Ursula Andren has had multiple swim coaches in her life. But one of her most important and most influential was one she was 6 years old. It was her friend, Anna Furrer.
“She actually taught me how to do flip turns,” Andren said. “They were terrible, because we were 6. But I’ve known her for so long.”
So it was only fitting that Andren and Furrer were able to swim together one last time as high school teammates over the weekend at the Class 3A state meet at King County Aquatic Center, as part of two different relays in the finals on Saturday night.
But for one point at Furrer, swimming at state this year seemed like a longshot, at best. After two back surgeries for a herniated disc, Furrer finally felt healthy heading into her senior year. But after a couple weeks of practice at the beginning of the season, when the school year was just getting underway, the pain returned.
“I felt great,” Furrer said. “I was indestructible, I thought. But you’re not.”
She was devastated. After so many injury complications in the past, she was excited to swim pain-free during her senior season.
All I want to do is swim. That’s been my life since I was 6 years old.
Anna Furrer, Gig Harbor High senior
“All I want to do is swim,” Furrer said. “That’s been my life since I was 6 years old.”
The doctors aren’t sure what exactly is affecting Furrer this time around. It could be nerve damage, but she isn’t sure. She’ll go to see a neurologist now that the swim season is over. But for now, there’s a lot of pain when she swims. But she made the decision to fight through it and came back for the final portion of the swim meet.
“I said, ‘I’m just going to do it,’” Furrer said. “At this point, that’s all I wanted to do. All I wanted to do was swim.”
She got to swim alongside senior teammates Andren, Alana Ponce and Olivia Lott in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay. Gig Harbor took fourth in the medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 50.01 seconds and fourth in the 200 freestyle at 1:40.29.
“For us, it was a moment of realization that it was our last state meet ever,” Furrer said. “It was our last time ever getting a medley relay medal.”
It will be tough for coach Mike Kelly to say goodbye to this group of seniors, who have been talented swimmers and contributors since the day they stepped on campus.
They just had a fabulous career at Gig Harbor. I felt blessed to have those girls around me. It was an honor to coach them.
Mike Kelly, Gig Harbor coach
“They were a real solid class from freshman to senior year,” Kelly said. “It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but you have to really hope the stars align and we’ve got some good freshmen coming in next year. … They just had a fabulous career at Gig Harbor. I felt blessed to have those girls around me. It was an honor to coach them.”
That class included Andren, who in addition to the relays, was also in the finals in the 100 breaststroke. She took fifth, clocking in at 1:05.76.
“It feels really surreal,” Andren said. “I’m so happy with how everything went. There’s no words for the feeling.”
Gig Harbor took eighth place overall in the team standings meet, with 116 points. Peninsula High also had some second-day swimmers in a few consolation final events. Junior Lissa Racette came in eighth in the 100 butterfly consolation final at 1:01.32. The Seahawks also appeared in the 200 and 400 freestyle relay consolation final events, taking eighth in the 200 at 1:47.04 and sixth in the 400 at 3:48.26.
In the 200 for Peninsula, the swimmers were Constance Kirby, Claudia Reutercrona, Emma Keith and Sabrina Butorac. In the 400, it was Ellie Hood, Contsance Kirby, Athena Petterson and Lissa Racette. Peninsula came in 32nd place overall with nine points.
Lakeside of Seattle took first place overall with 244 points.