Four Federal Way high school girls swim teams recently gathered for the second annual All-City girls swim meet, where Decatur’s team numbers allowed the Gators to nab a victory.
Decatur won the meet with 140 points total on Oct. 3.
Fourth-year head coach Sam Hunt, All-City meet organizer this year, said his energetic team loves to compete as much as they can.
“When I came to the program four years ago, we had 14 girls on the team,” Hunt said. “This year, we’re at 50 girls and they’re excited.”
The All-City meet, which marks the halfway point of the season, provides another opportunity for the swimmers to compete, challenge neighboring schools, and snag postseason qualifying times.
“Our strength this year is juniors,” Hunt said. “Then the freshmen class is also strong … kind of a mix of the two are a strength together that way.”
Decatur’s top returners this year are juniors Kimberly Walling and Lilly Tucker.
Tucker has qualified for leagues in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 100 back, also earning district-qualifying times in the 500 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 fly, and 200 individual medley (IM).
Walling has earned a league time in the 100 backstroke, and will head to districts in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 fly, and 200 individual medley.
Other postseason qualifiers include standout freshman Sydney Kenske in the 100, 200, 500 free, 100 backstroke and 200 IM; freshman Amaya Bakam in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley; and junior Krailyn Guymon in the 500 free for districts, and the 100 fly and 200 individual medley for leagues.
Last year’s All-City champions, Federal Way, took home second place with 114 points.
First-year Federal Way girls swim head coach Tim Yen survived the rough waters of transition earlier in the season and said he is looking forward to postseason with the Eagles.
Yen, a San Diego native, has coached for King Aquatic Club since 2018 and was the Marine Hills summer league coach in 2019.
This year’s mostly upperclassmen team, stacked with seven seniors and no freshmen, has already stacked up a slew of district cuts.
Junior Sarah Jacobson will head to districts in the 200 free, 100 fly, 100 back, and 200 IM; senior Bree Ross has racked up district times in the 50 free, 100 free, 500 free, and 200 IM, and a league time in the 100 breast. Junior Caitlyn Lo secured a league cut in the 200 IM and qualified for districts in the 5 free and 100 free.
Federal Way’s 200 medley relay of Jacobson, Ross, Lo and senior Meghan Kon, who also made a league cut in the 100 breast, made a district cut with a time of 1:59.37. Federal Way’s 400 free relay of Jacobson, Ross, Lo and senior Bridget Woods will head to districts with a time of 4:04.57.
With 107 points, Thomas Jefferson swam into third place.
Both in their second year coaching, head coach Tori Head and assistant coach Kaitlin Guzmán agreed they have been amazed at the TJHS swimmers’ improvement this season.
“It’s different from last year,” Head said. “We have a lot of new girls but everyone is learning so much.”
Thomas Jefferson’s spirited team is full of new girls, which means dedication to teaching the legal strokes and earning huge time cuts.
“They work hard every day and it pays off in the races,” Guzmán said.
Senior Emily Nguyen has earned league times in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, and 200 IM, and a district time in the 100 fly.
Sophomore Sophia McDonald made a league time in the 100 breast and a district time in the 50 free; sophomore Hailey Lawless has league times in the 200 IM and the 100 back.
Junior Emily Adams is close to snagging her 100 breastroke league cut and sophomore Madalynn Monson, along with the previously mentioned swimmers, have aided Thomas Jefferson in getting district cuts in the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, and 400 freestyle relay, Head said.
As for TJ’s third place finish at All-City, “in my book, it’s still a win because these girls got some of their [postseason] times – which was amazing to watch,” Head said.
Todd Beamer wrapped up the All-City meet with 82 points.
Despite Todd Beamer’s small team this year, said Jen Larsen, who is in her seventh season as head coach, the Titans have been holding their own in the pool.
The 13-swimmer team has been racking up the points at dual meets, she said, but numbers help secure victories.
“Even though they may not win, they’re going to look the prettiest,” Larsen said of the team’s hyper-focus on technique.
For Todd Beamer, the top swimmers include freshman Cassidy Campos and twin seniors Madeline and Grace Ralstin.
All three have quickly racked up league- and district-qualifying times: Campos has secured league times in the 200 free, 500 free, 100 breast and 200 IM. Grace Ralstin will compete at leagues in the 200 free, 100 back, and the 200 IM. Madeleine Ralstin earned a league cut in the 100 fly and district times in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
The team’s solo diver returning to the team is senior Stephenie Gunn, who placed third in state last year with a score of 329.70. Gunn qualified for the WIAA 4A State competition last Friday at an 11-dive meet with a total of 326.85 points.
“She has made all three postseason meets (NPSL, WCD III and WIAA) all four years of high school,” Larsen said.
The All-City meet unites the athletes from all four high schools, Larsen said.
“Most of these kids are born and raised here, myself included,” she said. “So it’s kind of like a family – it’s a fun family event.”