FEDERAL WAY — For a high-school swimmer, there’s no better time to swim a personal-best time than in the finals at the state meet.
Jackson’s Madison Pressler had great timing on Saturday.
The freshman set a school record and beat her previous personal best time by more than a second, finishing in 1:53.16 to win the state championship in the 200 freestyle, edging Inglemoor’s Kayla Roberson (1:53.50).
“It’s exciting,” Pressler said. “It’s so surreal to me. I was surprised with myself. I was like, ‘how did I even do that?’ It’s just so cool to me.”
As Pressler approached the wall at the end of the race, she said she knew she wasn’t alone.
“I could see her (Roberson) creeping up on me,” Pressler said. “I was just like, ‘I’ve got to hold her off,’ especially towards the end.”
Jackson swim coach Drew Whorley wasn’t at all surprised Pressler put together a championship caliber race.
“This girl has a world of talent,” he said. “She does everything right technically. She works extremely hard. She’s got the right mindset for swimming and she’s very competitive. I think the most exciting thing for me and the most rewarding part of it from a coaching standpoint is it gives her a degree of confidence that is critical to continue to be really successful in this sport.”
Pressler held off three seniors, as well as friend Brianna Lucien of Mariner for the win. The sophomore Lucien finished in third place with a time of 1:55.06.
“The combination of a lot of factors came together at the right time for her and she capitalized on the opportunity,” Whorley said of Pressler. “She went out and she was really aggressive in the race and kind of forced people to adjust to what she was doing and was able to hold on in the end.
“For her to have the confidence and the courage to put herself out there and see what happens, that was just a really bold race,” Whorley said.
Winning a state championship was not exactly what Pressler had in mind coming into the race.
“I thought I would maybe get fourth because I knew there was a lot of seniors,” Pressler said. “Coming in as a freshman and getting the state title, it’s amazing.”
Shortly after Pressler’s championship, Lucien joined her as a state champion winning the 500 freestyle in 5:04.46, six seconds ahead of her closest competition and three seconds better than her preliminary time from Friday.
“I know that (Madison) and Brianna and Nicole and Brianna are really close,” Whorley said. “They were cheering loudly for her. We’ve got great swimming in Snohomish County, especially in Wesco.”
Lucien was joined in the top-eight in the 500 freestyle by Cascade’s Demetra Laurent, who finished sixth in 5:19.34.
The Wesco 4A teams were well represented in several other events.
Pressler’s teammate, freshman Nicole Limberg finished fifth in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. She was followed in the 200 IM by Edmonds-Woodway’s Luci Brock in sixth and Monroe’s Lavinya Yap in eighth.
Pressler also earned a fifth place finish in the 100 backstroke and was followed by Kamiak’s Laura Johnson in sixth and Monroe’s Cathryn Armstrong in seventh.
Johnson and Yap also placed in the 100 butterfly, finishing seventh and eight respectively.
Kamiak (Angeline Dovinh, Johnson, Lyndsey Willis, Ingrid Straume) finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:40.78, nearly two seconds ahead of Jackson (Pressler, Limberg, Hannah Davis, Ashley Sawyer), which finished eighth.
Snohomish (Shelby Garrison, Alyssa Hyland, Madelynn Donohue, Ella Brooks) also earned a fifth place finish in the 200 freestyle relay.
While Pressler’s victory in the 200 freestyle stands out, Whorley was equally happy with Limberg, his other freshman.
“We’ve never had a pair of freshmen begin their career with this sort of splash,” Whorley said. “They’re going to be awesome kids to build around and I think there’s a lot of fast swimming in their future.”
Whorley was especially impressed with how his two freshmen shook off their first-day jitters for the finals on Saturday.
“The lights are really bright in that pool, especially when you haven’t been there before,” he said. “Yesterday I think they kind of felt that. They got past that yesterday and came back and reset today and executed.”
Pressler and Limberg helped the Timberwolves place eighth overall with 102 points and Kamiak finished 12th with 69. Newport won the team championship with 232 points.
With a core of young swimmers, the Timberwolves should be competitive with the state’s best for years to come.
“We’re going to go far as a team,” Pressler said. “I know that there is a few eighth graders coming up next year that will hopefully help our team too. So I think we will be up there with the bigger teams.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him at firstname.lastname@example.org and contact him at email@example.com.
Local team results: 8. Jackson 102, 12. Kamiak 69, 20. Snohomish 51, 21. Cascade 42, 22. Monroe 41, 25. Mariner 36, 28. Edmonds-Woodway, 36. Lake Stevens 6.
Top local finishers
200 medley relay—9. Jackson (Madison Pressler, Nicole Limberg, Alexis Stamey, Hannah Davis) 1:52.01, 12. Snohomish (Ella Brooks, Alyssa Hyland, Shelby Garrison, Madelynn Donohue) 1:55.50; 200 freestyle—1. Pressler (Jackson) 1:53.16, 3. Brianna Lucien 1:55.06 (Mariner), 9. Demetra Laurent (Cascade) 2:00.16, 15. Ingrid Straume (Kamiak) 2:03.09; 200 individual medley—5. Limberg (Jackson) 2:10.55, 6. Luci Brock (Edmonds-Woodway) 2:11.54, 8. Lavinya Yap (Monroe) 2:12.48, 13. Brooks (Snohomish) 2:14.12, 16. Hyland (Snohomish) 2:19.24. 50 freestyle—11. Danielle Booth (Cascade) 24.83, 12. Garrison (Snohomish) 24.86, 13. Djenne Dickens (Edmonds-Woodway) 24.94; Diving—12. Ashley Albrecht (Cascade) 285.35; 100 butterfly—7. Laura Johnson (Kamiak) 58.93, 8. Yap (Monroe) 58.96, 13. Garrison (Snohomish) 59.91; 100 freestyle—10. Cathryn Armstrong (Monroe) 54.32, 15. Dickens (Edmonds-Woodway) 55.46; 500 freestyle—1. Lucien (Mariner) 5:04.46, 6. Laurent (Cascade) 5:19.34, 15. Lyndsey Willis (Kamiak) 5:29.24; 200 freestyle relay—5. Snohomish (Garrison, Hyland, Donohue, Brooks) 1:41.02, 12. Kamiak (Angeline Dovinh, Johnson, Haley Lasley, Straume) 1:42.89; 100 backstroke—5. Pressler (Jackson) 57.62, 6. Johnson (Kamiak) 58.14, 7. Armstrong (Monroe) 1:00.44; 100 breaststroke—5. Limberg (Jackson) 1:06.12, 9. Booth (Cascade) 1:06.36; 400 freestyle relay—4. Kamiak (Dovinh, Johnson, Lyndsey Willis, Straume) 3:40.78, 8. Jackson (Pressler, Limberg, Davis, Ashley Sawyer) 3:42.69, 16. Edmonds-Woodway (Brock, Juliana Epoch, Josie McCloughan, Dickens) 3:51.63.