Inglemoor girls swim snags 4th straight state title

Victorious Viks: Top, Inglemoor High diver, Stacey Luke, and bottom, senior swimmer, Jayme Swalin.  - Reporter file photos
Victorious Viks: Top, Inglemoor High diver, Stacey Luke, and bottom, senior swimmer, Jayme Swalin.
— image credit: Reporter file photos

Girls snag fourth straight state title

Going into the final and deciding race of the 2007-2008 4A girls’ state swim meet at King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Inglemoor High head coach Monica Mayes was completely oblivious to the fact that the Vikings had a chance to tie Garfield with a win in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Instead, she was more focused on getting one of her star swimmers ready to receive the prestigious Swimmer of the Meet award — without letting the “cat out of the bag.”

“They had told me that I needed to get (senior Jayme Swalin) out of the pool, in a pair of sweats and over to the awards stands without her knowing what was going on,” Mayes recalled. “I had no idea what the ramifications of the relay meant, because I so focused on getting Jayme where she needed to be.”

Precisely three minutes and 36.14 seconds after the starting gun sounded, senior Megan Caylor, the team’s anchor, touched the wall a half stroke ahead of Garfield’s Alexandra Ernst. This enabled both schools to finish with 216 points for the meet, create the first tie in state championship history and keep Inglemoor’s unbeaten record at state since 2004 intact.

“Pretty much shock, excitement, sadness,” said Swalin on the team’s mixed emotions after the relay. “It was really exciting that we pulled off something special, but sad because it meant our high-school swimming was over.”

In addition to earning an 8-1 regular-season record and having Swalin named Swimmer of the Meet, the Vikings had five individuals place at state including junior Stacey Luke, who won the diving championship, and a second team relay win in the 200-meter freestyle, as well as their unforgettable 400 victory. Led by a core of seniors that have never experienced anything less than being on the best team in Washington since their time at Inglemoor, the Vikings’ winning attitude, teamwork and class they displayed throughout the 2007-08 season has earned them the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter Team of the Year award.

Silent leaders

Coach Mayes has been at the helm of Inglemoor swim ever since many of the team’s incoming freshmen were born. Starting in the fall of 1994, she’s says she’s been fortunate to be a part of a solid program that has built a winning heritage, particularly in the past several years.

“I think we have a lot of tradition that runs with our program,” said Mayes of the Vikings’ powerhouse team. “The girls take a lot of pride in swimming for Inglemoor, and want to represent their school well.”

The Vikings’ campaign last season was led by seniors Chrissy Baumgartner, Megan Caylor, McKenzie Nakamura and Jayme Swalin, who, according to Mayes, have exemplified Inglemoor’s tradition of teamwork and leadership.

“I think they’re just silent leaders ... they’re just able to really lead by example,” said the 14-year coach. “They all really work together, and I think where one might be not as confident, there’s another one the picks up that piece.”

Mayes also lauded the seniors for making it a point to learn everybody’s names at the beginning of the season and helping the incoming freshmen and new swimmers feel welcome, “because they know that’s part of being on this program,” she said.

“It’s been really amazing,” said Swalin of her team’s incredible record at state. “We don’t really think of ourselves as a powerhouse, but more of a good group of girls that like to have fun together, and it’s been really fun over the last four years.”

Although Inglemoor is graduating a total of 10 seniors, coach Mayes feels that her program is so inherently strong that they won’t have to rebuild as they look to make it an unprecedented five straight 4A state swim titles.

“I’m excited because some of those girls that may have been living in the shadows of others are going to get the chance to really shine,” Mayes said. “Inglemoor’s a very deep team ... but you can’t win a swim meet only on firsts, you got to have the supporting cast, and we certainly have a very strong supporting group of people.”

Mayes also wanted to thank the parents, as well as the staff at Inglemoor for being “incredible” supporters of her team.

A touch of class

There was only one 4A championship trophy, which presented a dilemma for Garfield and Inglemoor as they finished the state meet with identical team scores. In one of the classiest moves ever seen in high-school sports, the lady Vikings offered the first-place trophy to the Bulldogs to have on display in their school’s trophy case.

“It was pretty impressive (that) our girls did that and I think Garfield was very appreciative of it,” Mayes said. “I thought it was really nice of the girls to just see beyond the fact that it’s not a trophy in the end. It was the teamwork that did it.”

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