Tukwila Pool highlights Foster swim team

By Michelle Simpson, director of operations and John Forsyth, Foster head swim coach

Many of these girls are on staff here at the pool and some of them are currently taking the lifeguard class this semester as an elective class and want to work here.

“I have watched these girls come in all summer long practicing and preparing for this swim season,” Simpson wrote. “It is so awesome to witness their hard work pay off! We are proud of these girls and feel honored to have them call this their home pool.”

BE THE SHARK!

This year marks only the sixth season of girls swim team for Foster High School. Ever. We think… (We’ve gone back through easily available records and asked around via word of mouth). This fact may surprise some since the pool is a mere 100 yards away from the high school.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the athletes the program is steadily growing. Up until three seasons ago there was no Bulldog representation at the league swim meet — the event that serves as a culmination to the scheduled dual meet season. Two seasons ago four girls swam. Last season eight girls swam and one qualified for the district meet in two events — districts is the next level of qualifying and is followed by the state swim meet.

This season 12 girls swam during the regular season, 10 were able to swim at the league meet and eight girls traveled to the district meet to compete in three events. This is quite an accomplishment because they must reach faster and faster time standards to qualify for district and state competitions.

Those are the numbers and the facts. Now for the stories.

WHO CAN JOIN THE SWIM TEAM?

The first few years of swim team coaches allowed anyone who wanted to try out to be on the team. As a result, a number of girls who literally had no idea how to swim at the beginning of the season were swimming multiple events by the end of the year.

Now that a swim class if offered as part of the Foster High PE program, the coaches require that someone trying out for the team must be able to swim 25 yards without touching the side to stop. We had a few girls turn out this year who were at that level and it was great to see them improve.

Our team motto is “Be the shark” and it actually means that together we can accomplish amazing things. This comes from a poster that shows a school of fish in the shape of a shark with a Maya Angelou quote, “The sum is greater than all our parts.” Every girl contributes to the success of each individual on the team and to the team itself. This is absolutely evident during the day in, day out workouts and during the swim meets when racing other teams.

SPOTLIGHT

Eva Luethy — Senior

• Team captain for 2017 and 2018 seasons.

• Honorable mention All-League South Puget Sound League 2A Girls Swimming

As a child growing up in Tukwila, she took swim lessons at the Tukwila Pool, but she never swam competitively. As a freshman she turned out to swim because a friend convinced her. She ended up swimming all four years and, among other fantastic accomplishments, dropped over 40 seconds off of her 100 freestyle time.

Coaches say, “Eva provides inspirational leadership to our team. She has a real knack for both showing compassion while at the same time challenging others to reach their potential.”

Tabitha DeGolier — Sophomore

• 2nd team All League SPSL 2A Girls Swimming

The only Bulldog swimmer to swim competitively prior to being on the high school team, Tabitha has lofty goals and has already begun taking strides to race at the State Swim Meet by the time she’s a senior. She burst onto the Bulldog swim scene as a freshman swimmer by qualifying for Districts in both the 50 freestyle (the most competitive race by sheer number of swimmers) and the 100 backstroke. She repeated again this year in both those events and set personal records (PRs) at the District meet, qualifying for the second day of competition in the 50 free.

“Tabitha is a multifaceted athlete who also wrestles (for FHS) and competes in jujitsu. Her intensity, along with her friendly, playful nature has really helped the other swimmers feel like they belong in the pool. They all know she’s “way” faster than they are, but we all work hard together. Tabitha is one who sets the tone.”

Valentina G-Torres — Sophomore

New to the team this year, Valentina jumped right in as a team member and sent a message that she was here to improve. A family trip to her home country caused her to begin the season a little late, but she quickly started dropping chunks of time off of her 100 and 200 freestyle times. By the end of the season she’d raced herself onto the 400 yard Freestyle Relay team.

“I can’t say enough about how coach-able Valentina is. She gives 100 percent all the time. The other girls notice and respect that about her. She’s another who quietly set a tone of hard work (along with her big smile and fun demeanor).”

Anastasiya Shapiro — Sophomore

A natural leader, Anastasiya set a “team goal” in her mind this year: Break 5 minutes in the 400 yard Freestyle Relay. At first she didn’t really tell anyone about it, but as the season neared the end it became a topic that came up more and more among the girls. The goal was something Bulldog swimmers hadn’t quite been able to do the past two seasons. As our final home meet approached the fastest time posted had been 5:00.54. At the last meet the relay team comprised of the girls listed above in bold put together a terrific race and swam 4:51.05. The coach from the opposing team told the excited relay team “you know that’s only one second off a district qualifying time?”

Time for a new goal: Qualify for Districts in the 400 yard Freestyle Relay.

At the league meet the following week they swam a 4:46.51. Almost five seconds faster.

Then came the District Swim Meet a week later… the girls pulled out all the stops with each swimmer reaching personal best times in their 100 yard leg of the race. Their time was 4:36.87… If you would have been there you’d have thought we won the gold medal. The four girls there as alternates were jumping around, hugging the tired relay swimmers and high fiving each other. It was a true “Be the Shark” moment!

Other equally important shark members…

Sophomores: Erykah Landreth, Alyssa Zoll, Victoria, Yasmin Leivia

Freshmen: Alexia Phillips, Kelcie Newnom

The Bulldogs girls swim team was selected by a vote of league swim coaches as the 2018 SPSL 2A Sportsmanship winner for the second season in a row.

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