ARLINGTON — Morgan Ginnis never got to swim for Arlington High School.
But the school, which doesn’t have a swim program, wanted to celebrate her pool success just the same.
In a ceremony at the Arlington High School library Wednesday afternoon, Ginnis signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of New Mexico and swim for the Lobos. Also part of the ceremony was classmate and Arlington High baseball player, Ryan Walker, who signed a letter of intent to attend Washington State University and play baseball for the Cougars.
“I’m really excited,” Ginnis said. “A lot of pressure’s been taken off. It’s just an awesome, awesome feeling.”
Ginnis, who has swam since she was 4-years old, found herself in a unique situation at Arlington High. The school does not have a swimming program, so Ginnis swam for various club teams, first with the Marysville Marlins, then at West Coast Aquatics in Mill Creek and currently with King Aquatic Club in Federal Way.
“We’ve spent a lot of time getting Morgan through swimming,” said her mother, Judy Ginnis. “They never had a high school swim team so we’ve always been in select.”
Morgan Ginnis tried to get a waiver to compete at another local school once but it didn’t work. So she re-committed to club swimming.
“I think we tried one time but I don’t think they allowed it or it didn’t go through. So, I couldn’t get it,” she said. “It’s OK. Club swimming is faster and colleges look at club swimming more than high school so it wasn’t a big deal for me. It worked out great.”
Judy Ginnis, who said she definitely will go to a few of Morgan’s college meets, expressed some regret that Morgan couldn’t compete for Arlington High School. However, she’s happy that her daughter got to compete with the King Aquatic Club and believes the experience Mogran got there is similar to what would have been gained by swimming with a high school team.
“After being on good select teams, high school and select always conflicted anyway,” Judy Ginnis said. “It would have been fun because she could have that team atmosphere, but when she moved to King, though, she has that team feeling. This group of girls have been swimming together for a long time against each other, and now she’s moved to this team and they broke the national record.”
This past summer Ginnis and her teammates set a National Age Group Record in the girls 200-medley relay during the Pacific Northwest Swimming (PNS) Long Course Championship at their home pool in Federal Way.
With a time of 1 minute, 56.39 seconds, the group broke the previous record of 1:57.57, which had been set by a group of 17-year olds on a Minneapolis club team.
“That was really cool,” said Morgan Ginnis, who swam the last leg of the relay. “That was the first championship meet I had with (King Aquatic Club) because I had recently joined there, and that was awesome swimming with the girls and being a part of that record. Getting my name up on the Internet with them. It was just really cool.”
Morgan Ginnis began swimming to be like her older brother, Griffin. She went to one of his practices and decided, “I want to try that,” her mother said.
“She picked up on it right away and liked it,” Judy Ginnis continued. “She was always with the older kids.”
At New Mexico, Morgan Ginnis plans to major in chemistry and minor in biology. She hopes to become a dentist when she’s done swimming for the Lobos. Ginnis said there was one thing that made New Mexico stand out among other schools she visited, such as Kansas University and the University of Iowa.
“The swim team,” Ginnis said. “The girls on the swim team, the culture there, the coach is awesome, the pool in general, the workout room — that was a huge thing because I’ll be spending most of my time there and in the pool — and the academic support, that was really good.”
Morgan Ginnis swims three hours a day, seven days a week in Federal Way, which is a lengthy commute from Arlington. She was even swimming Wednesday night after a celebratory family dinner.
“I’m having a nice dinner tonight, but I still have to go swim,” she said. “Swimming’s my life.”
Arlington High pitcher/shortstop Ryan Walker wore plenty of Cougars gear while signing his letter of intent to play at WSU next season. Washington State was the only school Walker was seriously looking at.
“Honestly, I was just interested in Washington State,” Walker said. “When I went there I was like, ‘Yes. This is where I’m going to go.’ And then they offered me and it was pretty much my dream school.”
Walker plans to study criminal justice at WSU and go into law enforcement after his graduation. He said he is excited to get to Pullman and see what it’s like being a collegiate baseball player.
“I’m excited to see how baseball is going to be in college,” Walker said. “It’s going to be a lot different than it is here.”
While on a visit, Walker was impressed by the WSU campus, and how “the baseball program is just like a family.” He’s excited to have his recruitment out of the way, so he can focus on playing his best during his senior year at Arlington.
“I plan on making this my best season,” Walker said. “I hope to be at the top level in every position I play. Hopefully I can be the best in the league at both positions.”