SNOHOMISH — It’s become a tradition within the Snohomish swim and dive teams that when a program record gets broken, the previous record holder pays a visit to the new record holder as the new name gets put on the board at Snohomish Aquatic Center.
Panthers standout sophomore Mary Clarke is going to start getting used to those visits.
Clarke broke the school record 100-yard freestyle and set Class 3A District 1 championship meet records in the same event and the 50 freestyle as she helped Snohomish prevail with a tightly contested district team title on Saturday.
“I have been looking at that record board since like seventh or eighth grade and I have just studied those times and been like ‘This is what I can do to get there,’” Clarke said. “I’ve just worked with my coaches and my teammates. It’s always been a goal of mine.”
Goals certainly achieved for Clarke, who broke the Panthers’ 50 freestyle record as a freshman last season. She swam a blistering pace in both of her individual events. She finished the 50 freestyle in 23.71 seconds, breaking a the nine-year-old district record by .09 seconds. Her 100 freestyle pace of 51.43 seconds was .57 seconds better than the district record and .56 seconds ahead of the Snohomish’s 21-year-old program record.
“Mary is a dedicated athlete,” Panthers coach Jenny Service said. “She is a team player. She’s always checking in on her teammates to make sure everybody is ready and pumped up. … Then when she stands up on that block, she’s able to just command that energy that she brings every day at practice. She is a hard worker. She’s earned everything that she got today.”
Clarke also helped anchor Snohomish’s 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams to winning times. She entered the pool for the final leg of the 200 medley relay .26 seconds behind leading Shorecrest and quickly swam past her opponents to deliver the Panthers a victory with a district-record time of 1:50.89, finishing 1.8 seconds ahead of the second-place Scots.
She set that mark alongside teammates Rylee Johnston, Anna Kowalchyk and Grace Andrews.
“It’s so fulfilling,” Clarke said. “It’s like you turn around and you look at that clock and you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh. I did it.’ Bringing home the relay is one of the best feelings because your team is relying on you and you helped them achieve their goals. It’s an awesome feeling and it just makes you feel so incredible and empowered and ready for the next step.”
Clarke, Johnston, Kowalchyk and Kimi Nakamura-Doudt sealed up a district team title with their championship mark of 3:43.42 in the 400 freestyle relay to close out the night. Snohomish entered the final race with a one-point lead over Shorecrest and a five-point advantage over Shorewood in team scoring.
“It was so awesome to see the hard work that the girls have put in for the last 11 weeks pay off,” Service said. “They have really come together as a team. They’ve been incredibly supportive of each other through last year’s COVID season and this year. It’s just inspiring to see a group of girls who have faith in themselves.”
It was the second district title for Snohomish’s senior class who was apart of a championship team as freshmen.
Kowalchyk also played a crucial role in her team’s victory. The senior swam the 200 individual medley in 2:13.77 for a victory and finished second in 100 breaststroke with a state qualifying time of 1:07.09. She also swam the first leg of final relay and gave her squad a lead of just over 2 seconds when she finished her portion of the race.
“Anna did great,” Service said. “She has tried a new event this year with the 200 IM and she killed it. She trained incredibly hard for this.”
Snohomish finished the evening with 346 team points, posting top finishes in five of 12 events, to edge challengers Shorewood (335) and Shorecrest (333).
“I’m honestly speechless a little bit,” Clarke said. “It was just so exciting to be in this environment and surrounded by these amazing people. And to be able to set these goals and achieve them for myself and for the team, it was just amazing.”
Shoreline schools deliver strong showings with 2-3 finish
Both Shorewood and Shorecrest kept up with Snohomish to force a dramatic final relay race with the team title on the line.
Shorewood didn’t win any events, but the Thunderbirds had 14 top-eight finishes throughout the night and finished third or better in all three relays. The result was an overall second-place finish.
Shorecrest posted second-place finishes in each of the first four events and picked up their first individual victory of the day when freshman Quinn Whorley swam a winning time of 1:01.72 in the 100 butterfly. The quartet of Whorley, Owan Fralick, Elle Howson and Miranda Thompson earned a win in the 200 freestyle relay for Scots. They finished the event in 1:44.08.
Aila Howson added another individual victory with a come-from-behind performance in the 100 breaststroke. She trailed Kowalchyk by 1.03 seconds heading into the race’s final 50 yards and edged the Snohomish senior out by just .19 seconds with a state qualifying mark of 1:06.9.
Everett junior shines in long-distance freestyles
While Clarke dominated the short freestyle races, Everett’s Summer Dean showed off her skills in the 200 and 500 freestyle events with a pair of district championships.
Dean posted state qualifying times in both races with a 1:57.08 finish in the 200 and a 5:43.69 pace in the 500.
Grove blows away competition in backstroke
Monroe’s Mia Grove posted a scorching pace of 57.59 seconds to claim the district championship in the 100 backstroke. The Bearcats’ senior finished 4.08 seconds in front of her nearest competitor.
It was Grove’s second strong showing of the night in individual races. She finished second to Clarke in the 100 freestyle with a state qualifying time of 52.73 seconds.
Cascade’s Anderson earns district dive title
Saige Anderson delivered the Bruins their only top finish of the evening with a winning 11-dive score of 345.0, which qualified her for the state championships.
Anderson, a junior, finished 30.95 points in front her nearest competitor.