The smell of chlorine permeates in the air. Cheers blare through the pool. Hopes and dreams swim through the atmosphere. This is the competitive lifestyle has been the norm for seniors Gabby Dang and Brandon Stride. These two seniors will be graduating from North Creek High School this spring and swim for the University of California Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University, respectively.
North Creek High School has been established for just two years, which means its athletics programs are fairly new. That being said, both the boys and girls swim and dive programs are graduating two seniors who will compete at very prestigious schools next year.
Senior co-captain Stride, who has been competing for more than 10 years, says he’s still focused and looking forward to this upcoming boys season.
“I am looking forward to the meets. I really enjoy them. I love seeing the other swimmers improve. I love the friendly competitiveness at the meets between us and the other teams,” he said.
Stride, who not only dominates in the pool, is an incredible student as well. According to his dad, who is also the head boys swim coach, Brandon has had a stellar academic history. While taking the American College Test (ACT), Brandon scored a perfect 36.
Coach Jeff Stride says that some of Brandon’s biggest accomplishments are his academic accolades, his positive attitude and hard work ethic.
“He leads them [the swim team] through stroke techniques and demonstrations and pulls them together socially as well. So, I think he does a fantastic job,” Jeff said.
According to girls swim and dive coach Nancy Nygren, senior co-captain Dang is a versatile hard-working athlete.
“She is probably one of the most phenomenal swimmers I have ever worked with. She’s not somebody who gets up and brags. She’s one of our co-captains along with Alyssa Howard so she’s got leadership as well as the academics and athletics going on,” Nygren said.
Dang notched four 4A state freestyle titles during her career — during which she also swam at Inglemoor High — and set the state 100 butterfly record with a first-place time of 52.58 in the fall. Eastlake’s Katie Kinnear set the previous state record of 53.10 in 2009. Dang hit a 53.10 in prelims.
Dang is also a phenomenal student carrying a 4.0 grade-point average, according to coach Nygren. Her grades are reflected in the school that she has committed to swim for. Not only does Dang set an example in the pool, but also in the classroom. She exemplifies what it means to be a student athlete.
Coach Nygren says that Dang has led her team by example this season and has also shown them just what is possible. Not only is she focused on the present of the program, but also gives advice on what the coaches can do for future years to help the program succeed.
According to the College Swimming website, Dang is ranked second in Washington and 60th in the nation. College Swimming has Stride ranked ninth in Washington and 462nd in the nation.
Although their high school careers may have been short, these two athletes have left an outstanding legacy.
Aliah Kim is a journalism student at the University of Washington Bothell.