This fall is South Whidbey senior swimmer Ally Lynch’s last chance to achieve her dream of earning a medal at state.
With an appearance in the 2016 class 1A/2A girls swimming and diving state championships in the books, Lynch feels more poised than ever to reach the podium in the 100-meter breaststroke her senior year.
“That’s my ultimate goal,” Lynch said. “…I feel stronger and more experienced.”
Lynch was one of three intrepid Falcon swimmers who revived the program in 2015 after it had been defunct for more than a decade; the others were Kinsey Eager and Bella Northup. With the help of school administrators, the Falcons orchestrated a cooperative agreement with Kamiak High School to allow them to practice and compete alongside the Knights, but still represent South Whidbey.
Their efforts paved the way for two new freshmen who joined the program this fall — Ashley Lynch and Katie Zundel. While new to the program, they are not new to swimming, as both are members of the South Whidbey Stingrays swim club run by Kristi Eager.
Though Ashley Lynch had an idea of what to expect from the practices from her older sister, Ally, she was still surprised by the intensity of the workouts, which typically include “a lot” of 100-meter sprints.
“It’s very physically challenging,” Ashley Lynch said.
Ally Lynch said the first two weeks of practice are the most crucial and tough, as they typically swim around two and a half miles per day and learn fundamental techniques.
The program not only pushes the girls physically, but also tests their ability to balance school work and other responsibilities. They are permitted to leave school early and commute to Kamiak throughout the week. Staying on top of homework is a focus, they said.
“Traveling takes up a lot of the time,” Zundel said. “I’m hoping I don’t get too stressed out. I’m worried about keeping up, because I’m also in the jazz band. It’s been pretty fun though so far.”
Ally Lynch and Eager qualified for state in 2016 as “wild cards.” They did not place in the top three at districts and did not meet the state-qualifying marks in their respective events, but their times were still among the top 24 in the state.
Ally Lynch’s other goal this season is to qualify for state outright by meeting the qualifying time of 1 minute and 14 seconds. Her time at districts last year was just three seconds off the qualifying mark, so she’s hoping another year under her belt will push her through.
“If I do get that ahead of time, it just takes a lot of stress off of districts,” Ally Lynch said.
Ashley Lynch and Zundel’s goals are just to get their feet wet, improve their current times and become accustomed to the level of competition they’ll face this season.
“Making it to state would be a dream freshman year,” Ashley Lynch said.
“I just want to improve my times and get better,” Zundel added.