FEDERAL WAY — It was another highly successful state meet for Mary Clarke.
But just like last year, it was also bittersweet.
Two more top-two state medals. Two more school-record times.
And another oh-so-close finish in the 100-yard freestyle.
The Snohomish High School junior standout added to her collection with a pair of second-place medals in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle during the Class 3A girls swim and dive state championships Saturday night at King County Aquatic Center.
It comes after a similarly strong showing at last year’s state meet, when Clarke captured the 50 freestyle state title and placed second in another 100 freestyle photo finish.
Both years, she came within 0.1 seconds of winning the 100 freestyle state crown.
“It felt really cool to be able to place in the top at state,” Clarke said. “I think for me personally, you know, you always want more. So I feel like I still have that hunger for more. But I’m still so proud of myself for attacking the races in the best way that I could.”
During the first half of Saturday’s ultra-fast meet, Clarke swam an All-American consideration time of 23.42 seconds in the 50 freestyle. She finished 0.34 seconds behind state champion Mercer Island sophomore Clare Watson, who posted the sixth-fastest time in 3A state meet history.
Later on, Clarke swam a time of 51.13 seconds in the razor-tight 100 freestyle, finishing just 0.09 seconds behind state champion Mercer Island freshman Gracyn Kehoe. In last year’s 100 freestyle, Clarke touched the wall just 0.04 seconds behind the state champion.
For Clarke, that’s a combined margin of just 0.13 seconds in the two agonizingly close photo finishes.
She’s that close to having two more state titles.
But there was still plenty to celebrate for Clarke, who was all smiles after the meet.
On Saturday, she broke her own school records in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. And now, she owns four top-two individual state medals.
“Of course you want to win the state title when you’re a reigning state champion,” Snohomish coach Jenny Service said. “But Mary always finds something that she knows she can improve on, and then she finds the positives in all her events as well.
“It wasn’t a first-place finish,” she added, “but it was still two great swims.”
In an interesting twist, Clarke is club teammates with both of the Mercer Island state champions who beat her on Saturday.
“They’re just both incredible,” Clarke said. “We’re always supporting each other and pushing each other to be the best that we can be.
“So it was really fun to race (them),” she added. “But I mean, you know, you still want that first place.”
Clarke, who grew up swimming at Snohomish Aquatic Center, also broke a third school record in the 100 backstroke earlier this season.
Service said Clarke’s success stems from both her work ethic and the tremendous power she generates from her 6-foot-plus frame.
“She carries power through the water,” Service said. “And you can see that with the wake behind her.
“Mary is a spectacular athlete and teammate,” she added. “Being the caliber that she is, she could easily isolate herself during practice. But she really makes a point to know all the girls. She cheers for all the girls. … She really riles the team up and gets them going.”
With one year still left in Clarke’s high school career, Service is excited to see what she accomplishes next fall as a senior.
“She’s not anywhere near her peak yet,” Service said. “When she finds that, she’s gonna surprise herself and it’s gonna be exciting to see.
“And in the end, her swimming career is gonna be longer than (her) high school career,” she added. “I know she’s got bigger plans. So this is just a stepping stone.”
SHOREWOOD STANDOUT CLAIMS TOP-3 MEDALS
Arizona State commit Grace Lindberg rejoined the Shorewood swim team this fall primarily for the camaraderie of competing alongside her friends and classmates.
Ultimately, her decision ended up producing another two state medals.
Lindberg capped her senior season with a pair of top-three finishes at the talent-laden 3A state meet, placing second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 butterfly.
“I was really happy with how I swam,” she said. “I was pleased with not just the times, but the execution of the races. I was happy with where I placed. I was really pleased with everything that happened.”
Lindberg also earned state medals in both events as a freshman, when she took second place in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 100 butterfly.
She decided to focus solely on club swimming the next two years — for both the COVID-shortened 2021 spring season and last year’s fall season.
But after deciding to swim for her high school team again this year, she finished her prep career with a total of four individual state medals over her freshman and senior seasons.
“The ultimate factor that led to me wanting to come back was the social environment of high school swimming,” Lindberg said. “This far into my swimming career, I’ve never felt anything like the social environment of swimming for your school with your classmates.
“All of my closest friends are on the swim team at Shorewood, so that was what solidified the decision for me. … I am very happy I came back.”
Lindberg’s second-place finish in the 200 freestyle came with a time of 1:50.68. She touched the wall 1.89 seconds behind state champion Mercer Island sophomore Alexa McDevitt, who posted the second-fastest time in 3A state meet history.
Lindberg’s third-place finish in the 100 butterfly came with an All-American consideration time of 55.45 seconds, which broke a school record.
The 100 butterfly was a particularly fast race. State champion Lakeside sophomore Ella Jablonski broke the overall state meet record in 52.05 seconds, while the second-place Watson’s time of 54.37 seconds was the fourth-fastest in 3A state meet history.
“I knew going into it the competition was really tough,” Lindberg said. “And so I was super happy to have my name up there in that top three, especially because of who the competitors were.”
Lindberg also swam a split of 52.29 seconds in the 400 freestyle relay, which broke a 100 freestyle school record that had stood since 1995.
“Her performances were fabulous and we were thrilled for her,” Shorewood coach Susie McDowell said. “… She works hard and is just a positive impact on our program.
“I was thrilled that she came back for her senior year and was able to impact our team so positively — not just with how she swims, but who she is.”
Lindberg, who began swimming around age 7, has long focused on the freestyle and butterfly as her primary strokes.
According to her coach, Lindberg’s competitiveness and technique are among her greatest strengths in the water.
“Her ability to find her competitiveness is really key,” McDowell said. “And then also her body position. She seems to just kind of glide across the top. And she really has good underwaters coming off the wall.”
Lindberg said she’s excited to continue her swimming career at Arizona State under legendary coach Bob Bowman, who was the longtime coach of record-setting Olympian Michael Phelps.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I feel very lucky to have the opportunity, and I’m thrilled to get down there and get to work.”
PAIR OF LOCALS WIN ADAPTIVE RACES
Edmonds-Woodway senior Rebecca Hershey captured the 3A adaptive 50 freestyle title in 43.88 seconds.
Shorewood sophomore Kianna Fenlason won the 3A adaptive 50 backstroke in 59.56 seconds, beating second-place East Jefferson senior Gillian McCracken by 1.2 seconds.
OTHER LOCAL 3A MEDALISTS
Everett senior Summer Dean earned a pair of 3A freestyle state medals. She placed fifth in the 500 freestyle at 5:08.70 and eighth in the 200 freestyle at 1:56.35.
Cascade senior Saige Anderson capped her prep career with a second consecutive sixth-place medal in the 3A state diving competition. She finished with 299.35 points.
Shorecrest sophomore Aila Howson placed fifth in the 3A 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.13.
LOCAL 2A MEDALISTS
South Whidbey senior Parker Forsyth, who swam with Kamiak during the regular season as part of a co-op program, claimed a pair of 2A state medals. She placed third in the 100 breaststroke at 1:09.82 and eighth in the 200 individual medley at 2:19.89. She moved onto the state podium after placing ninth and 10th, respectively, in those same events last year.
Archbishop Murphy sophomore Sami Mandeville took fourth place in the 2A diving competition with 266.90 points. It was the second consecutive state diving medal for Mandeville, who placed fifth last year as a freshman.