Swim teams build community spirit


Sports editor

Participating on a summer swim team is more about team spirit and having fun than about winning. But winning doesn’t hurt.

Last Tuesday’s annual meet between Federal Way neighborhoods Twin Lakes and Marine Hills is always a fun competition for both teams, even if Marine Hills swam away with a 392-343 victory over its cross-town rival.

“It’s definitely a rivalry,” said Cecelia Larsen, 18, who has been swimming for Marine Hills for 11 years. “It was really exciting this year. You grow up in the swimming community in Federal Way and you know all the kids. You have so much team spirit for the neighborhood, but then you have all your friends who are on the other team.”

Ages of swimmers range from 6-and-under to 18, which makes the meets a chance for neighborhood families to get together every summer.

“My little brother Joey will swim a race, and I’ll scream my head off, then I’ll swim and he’ll cheer for me, then my other brother or sister will swim,” Larsen said.

The Marine Hills swim team is off to one of its best starts in recent years. The team was undefeated through its first five meets before losing to perennial power Kent, 417.5-320.5, on Thursday.

“We’ve had a great season. It’s been a great year for us, so this one is tough to take,” Marine Hills coach Rick Wisen said. “We’ve got a great group of kids. They’re strong swimmers and have great enthusiasm. There’s a lot of team spirit. Everybody is rooting everybody on. It’s fun. The meets are louder than they’ve been in years.

“The key to our success is everybody working together. That’s really what it’s all about for us — especially for summer league.”

Larsen remembers a time when Marine Hills wasn’t as good and Twin Lakes won a few meets. But in the past two years, Marine Hills has beaten Twin Lakes.

“We were really good when I was little, then we were horrible for a few years and didn’t win a meet. Now we’re good again.”

Her brother Pete Larsen, 15, has been swimming for the team since he was 6.

“It’s fun. I get to swim against people I swim against during the high school season,” said Pete Larsen, who swims for Federal Way High School and made it to state last year in the 100 fly. “I personally like summer league more than high school. There’s a lot more cheering. You get to cheer for the younger kids and you get to see them grow up.”

“It’s not stressful,” Cecelia Larsen said. “It’s not coaches yelling all the time, it’s more encouragement.

“You baby sit little kids on your team, you walk their dog. You see them at the grocery store. You know these people. It boosts the community feeling.”

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