Swimming is an individualistic sport. It’s all about the athlete (i.e. the swimmer) and the clock. What is seen at the Olympics — and even at the college level — is one prevailing mindset: Who’s the fastest in the pool?
Yet, that’s not how local swimmers operate. Instead of thinking “me-first,” it’s all about the team dynamic as the fall season enters its final phase.
“It’s so much better to be a part of a group, accomplishing a time together instead of just competing on your own,” Rogers swimmer Brynley Shakespeare said.
For the local high school girls swim team, it’s all about the relays.
“We’re always trying to compete with each other — trying to see who’s faster,” said Puyallup’s Gabi Dunayski, who competes in Puyallup’s 200-yard medley and 400 freestyle relays.
“You don’t want to let your teammates down,” Rogers’ Sophia Ko, who will compete in the 200 and the 400 free relays for the Rams at the state meet, added.
As of Monday, every school in the area has at least two relay teams competing at state this year, with the only exception being Emerald Ridge High.
Puyallup and Bonney Lake each had all three relay team reach state this year, with Puyallup’s 200 medley relay finishing in second place, with a time of 1 minute, 54.41 seconds, at the West Central District 3 meet.
“We’ve had a lot of success with relays in the past,” said Puyallup’s Tabitha Messineo, a member of Puyallup’s 200 medley relay team along with Kacey Kiuchi, Jenna Fitzsimmons and Dunayski. “We’ve always had a relay at state. We’ve had so many successful relays and (right now) we’re ranked high.”
Both of Sumner’s relay teams — its 200 free (1:42.95) and 200 medley (1:55.70) — will be compete at state while Rogers will send its 200 medley (2:03.61) and 400 free (4:01.90) relays.
With 10 out of the 15 possible relay teams (from Class 3A to 4A) in the area reaching state, it’s a good sign that swimming in the area isn’t about the individuals competing.
It’s about the team.
“It’s so much more fun to swim in a relay,” Puyallup’s Kiuchi said. “It’s something you can share with your friends.”